INTRODUCTION: Currently, the most effective treatment strategy for adults with hydrocephalus involves cerebrospinal fluid diversion by means of a shunt system, most commonly ventriculoperitoneal shunts (VPS). Ventriculoperitoneal shunting is associated with high complication and/or revision rates, in part due to the high-profile programmable valve designs. Thus, the valve-agnostic cranial implant (VACI) was designed and investigated as a safe and effective method of reducing the valve's high profile and is currently undergoing clinical trials. As such, the objective of this study was to collate preliminary, multi-institutional data of early outcomes using a VACI approach for patients requiring VPS by way of an Institutional Review Board approved registry. METHODS: A total of 25 adult patients across 4 institutions and 6 surgeons underwent VACI placement for VPS based on preoperative evaluation and perceived benefit. Patient demographics, operative details, and preliminary outcomes are presented here. RESULTS: Valve-agnostic cranial implant placement via a limited size craniectomy at time of shunt revision was performed with no adverse events. Over an average follow-up period of 1 year (394 ± 178 days), 92% of patients experienced no major shunt-related or scalp-related complications. There were 2 cases with a major complication requiring reoperation: 1 shunt tubing extrusion and 1 case of meningitis. The most frequent postsurgical intervention seen in this study was related to adjustment of drainage: a non-invasively performed valve reprogramming after initial shunt placement when proper flow rate is being established. Of the 8 cases of drainage adjustment, all but 1 (88%) were receiving a VPS for the first time, with the exception undergoing a fourth shunt revision. All instances of improper flow were treated non-surgically and remediated effectively via shunt reprogramming in clinic. Removal of the VACI was not indicated in any treatment course. In this way, all complications as they relate to the shunt valve were minor and required nonsurgical intervention, and no complications reported were directly or indirectly caused by using the VACI. CONCLUSION: Preliminary findings from this multicenter trial suggest promising outcomes with a low complication rate for patients with hydrocephalus undergoing VACI placement during VPS. Ongoing research will continue to provide a more robust clinical picture of VACI in hydrocephalus management as more data becomes available.
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