Objective. The purpose of this study was to test if a reduction of external ventricular drains (EVD) related ventriculitis could be achieved by a strict protocol of care and if protocol violation was associated with a higher incidence of EVD-related ventriculitis.
Methods. A written protocol for EVD insertion, nursing and surveillance was implemented. A retrospective comparison of EVD-related ventriculitis incidence was performed between control (161 EVD in 131 patients) and study periods (216 EVD in 175 patients). Risk factor analysis was performed in patients in whom an EVD was inserted during the study period including the relationship between protocol compliance and ventriculitis. A score for the number of protocol violations (absence of hair clipping, absence of a tunnelled EVD, absence of shampooing, incorrect dressing change, inappropriate CSF bag or tap samplings and EVD manipulation) was established for each patient.
Results. Incidence of patient-related ventriculitis decreased from 12.2% (1999) down to 5.7% (p<0.05) as well as incidence of EVD-related ventriculitis (9.9% vs 4.6%, p<0.05). During the study period, the only statistically significant risk factors for infection were CSF leak and protocol violations. The mean protocol violation score was 4 times higher in the infected versus the non-infected patients (p<0.0001). Patients with a violation score of 0 or 1 had no infection (EVD duration 2 to 42 days).
Conclusion. EVD can be left safely, as long as needed, provided that meticulous care is taken for EVD insertion and nursing. EVD duration seems to have no effect on infection incidence.