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Cerebrospinal fluid diversion in the treatment of benign intracranial hypertension.

Thirty-six patients from a consecutive series of 41 patients with benign intracranial hypertension (BIH) were treated by cerebrospinal fluid shunting. In 12 patients this was selected as the primary treatment due to the severe deterioration of vision or concern regarding the possible adverse effects of steroids; all 12 patients showed rapid and complete resolution of the disease, although eight patients still have a shunt in place. In 24 patients a shunt was inserted when other forms of treatment failed; all of these patients showed rapid resolution of the condition, although 20 patients still have a shunt in place. Three patients had the shunt removed without sequelae, and one patient in whom the shunt was removed because of low-pressure symptoms remains symptomatic with persistent papilledema (over 6 years). The percutaneous lumboperitoneal (LP) shunt was associated with the lowest revision and complication rates. Cisternal shunting to either the atrium or pleural cavity was next most effective, whereas valved LP shunts inserted via a laminectomy were least effective; ventricular shunts were used in only two cases. Shunting is therefore very effective in the treatment of BIH, but the significant complication rate and the possibility of inducing shunt dependence must be recognized.

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