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Utility of intracranial pressure monitoring as a diagnostic tool in pediatric ventriculomegaly.

OBJECTIVE: Intracranial pressure (ICP) monitoring is commonly utilized for identifying pathologic ICP in cases of traumatic brain injury; however, its utility in hydrocephalic children has not been elucidated. Although patients with typical (pressure-active) hydrocephalus present with clear signs and/or symptoms and the need for cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) diversion is often clear, others may have arrested or pressure-compensated hydrocephalus with pathologic ICP elevation masked by ambiguous signs or are completely asymptomatic. Without treatment these pathologic ICP elevations may affect neurologic development or crescendo over time leading to neurological decline. The purpose of this study is to investigate the utility of ICP monitoring as a diagnostic tool in this relatively common patient population and identify ventriculomegaly patients with and without pathologic ICP, thus improving accuracy of identifying those with and without surgical needs.

METHODS: 36 patients (≤ 17 years old) underwent 41 inpatient ICP recording sessions between 2016 and 2022 and were retrospectively reviewed. This included patients with a history of severe, nonprogressive ventriculomegaly and normal fundoscopic examinations lacking traditional signs and symptoms concerning for elevated ICP. Nighttime pathological plateau waves were defined as sustained elevations of ICP ≥ 2x baseline for a duration of ≥ 5 minutes.

RESULTS: The mean age of patients was 5.5 years old (range 0-17 years old). 46.3% of patients had prior endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV), 14.6% had prior ventriculoperitoneal shunt (VPS), and 39% were without prior surgical intervention. Roughly half (51.2%) of patients had congenital ventriculomegaly while other patients had ventriculomegaly due to other pathologies such as germinal matrix hemorrhage/intraventricular hemorrhage (GMH/IVH) (29.3%), stroke (4.9%), cerebral infections/meningitis (2.4%), or unknown etiology (12.2%). The average procedure time was 19.1 ± 10.5 minutes, and mean length of stay was 2.8 ± 0.7 days. Pathologic ICP was demonstrated in 12 cases (29.3%), 4 (33.3%) of which were asymptomatic. Pathologic ICP was found in 7 of 19 (36.8%) in the prior ETV group, 1 of 6 (16.7%) in prior shunt group, and 4 of 16 (25%) in the non-surgical group (p = 0.649). Among those with pathologic ICP, 6 (50%) cases received an ETV, 5 (41.7%) cases underwent VPS placement, and 1 (8.3%) case underwent a VPS revision. There were no infectious complications or cases of hemorrhage. 4 patients required repositioning of the ICP monitor due to dislodgement.

CONCLUSION: Inpatient ICP monitoring is a safe and effective diagnostic tool for evaluating the presence of pathologic ICP in severe, persistent non-progressive ventriculomegaly. The use of ICP monitoring may aid in identifying patients with pressure-compensated hydrocephalus who demonstrate pathologic ICP where surgical intervention may be warranted, while preventing unnecessary CSF diversion in those without pathology.

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