Background: The risks associated with implanting a cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) shunt in immunocompromised patients with ongoing CSF infection have historically discouraged surgeons from implanting CSF shunts in patients with HIV and cryptococcal meningitis. However, this patient population often requires frequent lumbar punctures to manage elevated intracranial pressure (ICP) secondary to cryptococcal infection. To date, only 7 cases of ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunting for the treatment of intracranial hypertension in patients with HIV-associated cryptococcal meningitis have been reported. Few of these reports have included outcomes more than 3 months postsurgery. It remains unclear if VP shunts are an effective long-term treatment of intracranial hypertension in this patient population. Case Descriptions: Two patients with HIV/AIDS (CD4 counts of 8 and 81 cells/mm 3) presented with altered mental status, visual changes, florid cryptococcal meningitis, and elevated ICP (>500 mm CSF) without evidence of hydrocephalus on computed tomography scan. Both patients experienced rapid reversal of symptoms with external lumbar CSF drainage, and remained lumbar drain-dependent after 2 weeks of amphotericin B and flucytosine therapy. Despite evidence of unresolved cryptococcal meningitis, each patient underwent implantation of a VP shunt without complication and was discharged on lifetime fluconazole therapy. They remained asymptomatic at 12 and 16 months after surgery without evidence of shunt infection or malfunction. Conclusion: Patients with intracranial hypertension and HIV-associated cryptococcal meningitis who cannot tolerate cessation of external lumbar CSF drainage or frequent lumbar punctures may be considered for VP shunt placement despite severe immunosuppression and persistent CSF cryptococcal infection.
- Cerebrospinal fluid shunts
- Cryptococcal meningitis
- Elevated intracranial pressure
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology