Object. The rate of infection following shunt procedures is unacceptably high. The authors have hypothesized that the key to reducing the shunt infection rate is in reducing bacteria in the operating field and wound. This hypothesis has been tested in a prospective nonrandomized controlled manner. Methods. Data obtained in all patients undergoing shunt insertions or revisions for hydrocephalus performed between October 1, 2003, and June 12, 2009, were reviewed. Starting in August 2006, we began routinely irrigating the operating field and wound with saline solution from a syringe. Prior to this, we had not used any irrigation techniques, providing an adequate control group (Group A) for the effect of the irrigation technique. Prior to November 2007, we used saline containing amikacin for irrigation (Group B). After that date, we used saline only for irrigation (Group C). Results. A total of 150 shunt procedures were performed in 79 girls and 71 boys during the study period. The mean age of all patients was 44.0 ± 59.1 months. Groups A, B, and C comprised 61, 40, and 49 shunt procedures, respectively. There was no statistical difference in age among the 3 groups. Nine infections occurred within 90 days in the postoperative period. The overall infection rate was 6.0%. Eight infections occurred before introducing the irrigation procedure (infection rate 13.1%). One infection was noted after introducing irrigation (Group B [0.0%] + Group C [2.0%]; combined B and C infection rate = 1.1%). There was a statistical difference in the infection rate between Group A and Groups B and C combined (p = 0.003), Groups A and B (p = 0.021), and Groups A and C (p = 0.035). In contrast, no statistical difference was observed between Groups B and C (p > 0.99). Six of the 9 infections were due to staphylococcal species. Conclusions. An irrigation technique used to reduce bacteria in the operating field and wound is effective for preventing shunt infection. Irrigation alone, and not antibiotics, contributed to the prophylaxis of shunt infection.
- Saline irrigation
- Shunt infection
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Clinical Neurology