Decadron, Diamox, and Zantac A Novel Combination for Ventricular Shunt Failure in Pediatric Neurosurgical Patients

Lang Shih-Shan*, Jillian Ploof, Natalie J. Atkin, Kella Tran-Du, Bhavya M. Kanuga, Phillip B. Storm, Gregory Heuer, Ian Yuan, Nicholas S. Abend, Matthew P. Kirschen, Alexis A. Topjian, Yimei Li, Angela J. Waanders, Joseph J. Zorc, Jimmy W. Huh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: Cerebral ventricular shunt failure is common and presents with symptoms that range from headaches to death. The combination of Diamox (acetazolamide), Decadron (dexamethasone), and Zantac (ranitidine) (DDZ) is used at our institution to medically stabilize pediatric patients presenting with symptomatic shunt failure before shunt revision. We describe our experience of this drug combination as a temporizing measure to decrease symptoms associated with shunt failure. Methods: We performed a single-center retrospective chart review of patients younger than 18 years with ventricular shunt failure who underwent a shunt revision between January 2015 to October 2017 and received DDZ before surgery. The outcome variables evaluated included pre-DDZ and post-DDZ clinical symptoms, pain scores, and vital signs. Results: There were 112 cases that received DDZ before shunt revision. The 4 most commonly reported symptoms were analyzed. Headache was observed in 42 cases pre-DDZ, and post-DDZ there was a 71% reduction in headache (P < 0.0001); emesis was reported pre-DDZ in 76 cases, and post-DDZ there was an 83% reduction (P < 0.0001); irritability was noted pre-DDZ in 30 cases, and post-DDZ there was a 77% reduction (P = 0.0003); lethargy pre-DDZ was observed in 60 cases, and post-DDZ 73% demonstrated improvement (P < 0.0001). Maximum pain scores significantly decreased post-DDZ (P < 0.0001). Heart rate, systolic, and diastolic blood pressures significantly decreased post-DDZ (P < 0.0001, P < 0.0001, P = 0.0002, respectively). Conclusions: The combination of Decadron, Diamox, and Zantac is a novel treatment for ventricular shunt failure that may temporarily improve symptoms in patients awaiting shunt revision. Future studies could compare efficacy with other medical treatments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E1444-E1450
JournalPediatric emergency care
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021


  • Cerebral ventricular shunt failure
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Intracranial hypertension

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Emergency Medicine


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