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Indications for pediatric external ventricular drain placement and risk factors for conversion to a ventriculoperitoneal shunt.

BACKGROUND/AIMS: The external ventricular drain (EVD) is commonly used for the treatment of hydrocephalus and intracranial pressure (ICP) monitoring. In this study, we retrospectively reviewed indications for EVD placement over the last 20 years in pediatric patients at our institution. Additionally, we evaluated the rate that an EVD needed to be converted to a ventriculoperitoneal shunt (VPS) and ascertained how hydrocephalus etiology impacted long-term drainage requirements.

METHODS: Patients that received an EVD between 1990 and 2010 at our institution were identified using billing codes. Demographics, etiology of hydrocephalus, length of stay (LOS) and EVD duration were recorded. Only patients receiving their first EVD were included; those with any prior ventricular catheter (including prior shunts) were excluded from this study.

RESULTS: A total of 180 patients underwent first-time placement of an EVD over the 20-year period. Of these, 78.9% were placed on the right side and 81.7% were performed through a frontal burr hole site. The average age of all patients at their initial procedure was 9.3 years (median 9.8; range 0-18), hospital LOS was 22.5 days (median 16; range 1-174) and EVD duration was 7.8 days (median 7; range 1-37). Trauma (43.3%) and neoplasms (32.2%) were the most common indications. Approximately, one quarter of the patients were unable to become EVD independent and, therefore, required a VPS. Only patients receiving an EVD for traumatic brain injury were significantly less likely to be converted to a shunt than other causes of hydrocephalus (relative risk, RR = 0.18, 95% confidence interval, CI = 0.07-0.46). Conversely, patients with neoplasms (RR = 3.56, 95% CI = 1.74-7.31), obstructive hydrocephalus (RR = 5.48, 95% CI = 1.37-22.0) and intraventricular hemorrhage (RR = 9.86, 95% CI = 1.05-92.3) were more likely to need a shunt.

CONCLUSION: Traumatic brain injuries and neoplasms represent the most common indications for EVD placement in the pediatric population. While patients with neoplasm were much more likely to need conversion to a VPS for long-term cerebrospinal fluid diversion, the majority of EVDs in patients with head injuries were successfully weaned.

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