Ventriculoperitoneal shunt malfunction presenting with pleuritic chest pain

Amer F. Samdani, Phillip B. Storm, Eric B. Kuchner, Ira M. Garonzik, Dan Sciubba, Benjamin Carson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background: Ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunts are widely used for treating hydrocephalus. These devices are prone to malfunction with up to 70% requiring revision. Shunt infection and obstruction comprise the majority of malfunctions and usually present dramatically. However, rare presentations occur. Methods/Results: We report a rare case of VP shunt malfunction presenting with pleuritic chest pain. A 13-year-old girl with a VP shunt placed at birth for congenital hydrocephalus presented on multiple occasions with pleuritic chest pain, cough, and fever. She was diagnosed with an upper respiratory tract infection and discharged home. She returned with respiratory compromise, and chest x-ray depicted the shunt catheter in the pleural space with an associated pleural effusion and infiltrate. The patient fully recovered with intravenous antibiotics, thoracentesis, and placement of a new shunt system. Conclusions: VP shunt malfunction usually presents with signs and symptoms of increased intracranial pressure and/or infection. However, unusual presentations of malfunction may occur with signs and symptoms which appear unrelated to the shunt. Thus, all patients with VP shunts warrant a comprehensive evaluation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)261-263
Number of pages3
JournalPediatric emergency care
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2005


  • Chest pain
  • Complications
  • Pleural effusion
  • Shunts
  • Ventriculoperitoneal shunts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Emergency Medicine


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