Treatment of posthemorrhagic hydrocephalus in the preterm infant with a ventricular access device

Pediatr Neurosurg. 1998 Dec;29(6):309-13. doi: 10.1159/000028744.


Intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH) and subsequent posthemorrhagic hydrocephalus (PHH) commonly complicate the course of extremely preterm infants. Many methods for treating the hydrocephalus have been used, none of which are ideal. We present the largest series of infants with PHH treated with one modality, the ventricular access device (VAD). One hundred and forty-nine preterm infants with PHH were treated by placement of a VAD and serial taps to control intracranial pressure and ventricular size. Variables recorded include gender, race, gestational age, weight at birth, IVH grade, incidence of VAD infection, malfunction or local wound problems and indwelling time to either shunt placement or VAD removal. Of the 149 preterm infants, 91 were males and 58 females. The average birth weight was 994 g and the average gestational age at birth was 26.3 weeks. Three infants were IVH grade 1, 8 were grade 2, 62 were grade 3 and 76 were grade 4. VAD occlusion occurred in 15 infants (10%). Nine infants required contralateral VAD placement for a trapped ventricle. VAD infection occurred in 12 infants (8%), 5 of whom were treated successfully with a combination of systemic and intra-VAD antibiotics without removal of the VAD. The total rate of revision was thus 20% (15 for occlusion, 9 for trapped ventricle, 7 for infection). Wound problems were minimal and consisted of 4 cerebrospinal fluid leaks and 14 subgaleal fluid collections. For the 133 survivors, the rate of shunt placement was 88%. The VAD, while not ideal, is an excellent treatment at this time for PHH. It can be utilized for several months with acceptable rates of infection, blockage and wound complications. The VAD tap is simple to perform, not disruptive to minimal stimulation protocols, and can be done by physician extenders. In addition, medications can be administered via the access device, thus allowing treatment of some infections without VAD removal as well as instillation of thrombolytic agents such as urokinase.

MeSH terms

  • Catheters, Indwelling
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / complications*
  • Cerebral Ventricles
  • Drainage / instrumentation*
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Hydrocephalus / etiology
  • Hydrocephalus / therapy*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / etiology
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / therapy*
  • Male
  • Plasminogen Activators / administration & dosage
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Urokinase-Type Plasminogen Activator / administration & dosage


  • Plasminogen Activators
  • Urokinase-Type Plasminogen Activator