Ventricular shunt complications in patients undergoing posterior vault distraction osteogenesis

  • Anthony Azzolini
  • Katie Magoon
  • Robin Yang
  • Scott Bartlett
  • Jordan Swanson
  • Jesse TaylorEmail author
Original Article



The primary objective of this study is to investigate post-operative morbidity and shunt revision rates of patients with shunt-dependent hydrocephalus (SDH) undergoing posterior vault distraction osteogenesis (PVDO) compared to patients undergoing conventional posterior vault reconstruction (PVR).


A retrospective case-controlled cohort analysis of all patients with SDH undergoing PVDO and PVR for syndromic or complex craniosynostosis was performed. Demographic information, perioperative variables, distraction protocols, and shunt-related complications—infection, surgical revision of shunt, increased length of stay (LOS), and readmission within 90 days of surgery—were compared using the appropriate statistical tests.


Fourteen patients with ventricular shunts who underwent PVDO and eight patients with shunts who underwent PVR were identified. Shunt-related complication rates were significantly higher with PVDO (n = 5) compared to PVR (n = 0), p = 0.0093. Among the five patients who suffered complications, the most common were shunt infection (n = 4), shunt malfunction (n = 4), and wound infections (n = 3). All patients with complications required additional operations for shunt revision and/or replacement; four patients required multiple takebacks for such procedures, with an average of three additional procedures per patient.


In complex or syndromic craniosynostosis patients who have previously undergone ventricular shunting, PVDO is associated with higher shunt-related complications and need for additional procedures when compared to traditional PVR. While the benefits of PVDO in the treatment of syndromic craniosynostosis are well documented, the risks of PVDO in the face of a VP shunt must be considered. Further investigation into patient-specific risk factors and risk reduction strategies is warranted.


Shunt-dependent hydrocephalus Posterior vault distraction osteogenesis Posterior vault reconstruction 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

None of the authors has a financial interest in any of the products, devices, or drugs mentioned in this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anthony Azzolini
    • 1
  • Katie Magoon
    • 1
  • Robin Yang
    • 1
  • Scott Bartlett
    • 1
  • Jordan Swanson
    • 1
  • Jesse Taylor
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Division of Plastic and Reconstructive SurgeryChildren’s Hospital of PhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Perelman Center for Advanced MedicinePhiladelphiaUSA

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