Is Shunt Evaluation Useful in Children With Intraventricular Shunts With Seizures?

Anat Cohen,Anat, Rajkumar Agarwal, Ahmad Farooqi, Nirupama Kannikeswaran*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Seizures are a common presenting symptom to the emergency department (ED) in children with intraventricular shunts (IVS). The incidence of shunt malfunction and the yield of imaging studies in children with IVS presenting with seizures is unknown. Objectives: We assessed the utility and diagnostic yield of evaluation for shunt malfunction in patients with IVS with seizure and identified clinical predictors for shunt malfunction in these children. Methods: We performed a retrospective review of children aged zero to 21 years of age with IVS who presented to the ED with seizure between 2011 and 2015. Demographic, clinical, laboratory and radiological data were collected. Shunt malfunction was diagnosed based on whether a shunt revision was performed during the hospitalization. Results: We evaluated 408 ED visits (median age: six years [IQR: 3, 11], males 61.5%) for IVS with seizures. Few visits were for first seizure (37; 9.1%) or for status epilepticus (46 visits; 11.3%). Computerized tomography head was performed in 318 patients (95.2%), of which 32 scans (10.6%) were suggestive of shunt malfunction. A shunt series was performed in 302 (90.4%) and was suggestive of shunt malfunction in eight (2.6%) patients. Shunt malfunction was diagnosed in 40 of 408 visits (9.8%). Only a history of multiple (≥3) shunt revisions was significantly associated with shunt malfunction. There was no association between number, type, or prior history of seizures and shunt malfunction. Conclusion: Our study demonstrates a low yield of imaging studies for the evaluation of shunt malfunction in children with IVS with seizures, and shunt malfunction is an uncommon cause of seizures in these children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-64
Number of pages6
JournalPediatric neurology
StatePublished - Nov 2018


  • Computerized tomography head/brain
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Intraventricular shunts
  • Seizures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology


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