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Advantages of delayed VP shunting in post-haemorrhagic hydrocephalus seen in low-birth-weight infants

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The optimal timing of ventriculo-peritoneal (VP) shunt insertion in a neonate with post-haemorrhagic hydrocephalus (PHH) is uncertain. During the 8-year period from January 1989 to December 1996, 41 patients had VP shunts inserted for PHH at Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital. Data on 36 patients were sufficient for review in order to determine whether the timing of surgery in any way influenced the complication incidence of this intervention. Nine of the 36 patients had a serious complication, either infection or mechanical shunt obstruction, during their initial hospital admission (early period). Nineteen patients had surgery performed before day 35 after birth and all those with early complications were in this group. Seventeen patients had surgery delayed until after day 35, and none of these patients had an early complication. In this study a higher complication incidence was noted when a VP shunt was inserted prior to day 35 (Chi-square test P<0.01). This most probably correlates with a high concentration of blood breakdown products in the cerebrospinal fluid during the first month after intra-ventricular haemorrhage.

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Taylor, A.G., Peter, J.C. Advantages of delayed VP shunting in post-haemorrhagic hydrocephalus seen in low-birth-weight infants. Child's Nerv Syst 17, 328–333 (2001).

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