Harvey Cushing's early management of hydrocephalus: An historical picture of the conundrum of hydrocephalus until modern shunts after WWII

David A. Chesler, Courtney Pendleton, Edward S. Ahn, Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Purpose: Throughout his early career, Cushing proposed a variety of methods for temporary and permanent drainage and diversion of CSF in his patients, and acknowledged that certain techniques were more suited to particular subsets of hydrocephalus. Methods: Following IRB approval, and through the courtesy of the Alan Mason Chesney Archives, the surgical records of the Johns Hopkins Hospital, from 1896 to 1912, were reviewed. Patients operated upon by Harvey Cushing were selected for further analysis. Within this cohort, we recovered all available records for a single patient with hydrocephalus and spina bifida, who was treated with a ventriculosubgaleal shunt prior to repair of the spina bifida. Results: A 3 month-old infant presented with hydrocephalus associated with spina bifida. Cushing performed serial lumbar and ventricular punctures. Following this, Cushing took the patient to the operating room for placement of a ventriculosubgaleal shunt. The patient subsequently underwent excision of the myelomeningocele sac, with post-operative mortality due to unspecified causes. Conclusions: Cushing's publications document a preference for translumbar-peritoneal drainage in patients with congenital hydrocephalus, particularly those with spina bifida. Although the placement of ventriculosubgaleal shunts has become an accepted practice for contemporary neurosurgeons, this case illustrates the challenges that early neurosurgeons faced in developing operative approaches for the treatment of congenital hydrocephalus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)699-701
Number of pages3
JournalClinical Neurology and Neurosurgery
Volume115
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2013

Keywords

  • Congenital hydrocephalus
  • Cushing
  • Spina bifida
  • Ventriculosubgaleal shunt

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology

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