Safety of ventricular reservoir sampling in pediatric posthemorrhagic hydrocephalus patients: Institutional experience and review of the literature

Amanda M. Saratsis*, Daphne Li, Kathy Romanski, Maureen Kilgallon, Stacy Speck, Robin Bowman, Arthur DiPatri, Tord Alden, Tadanori Tomita, Sandi Lam

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


INTRODUCTION: Posthemorrhagic hydrocephalus (PHH) is a common disease process encountered in neonates. Management often includes cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) aspiration through ventricular access devices (VADs). However, a common concern surrounding serial access of implanted subcutaneous reservoirs includes introduction of infection. In addition, there is great variability in aseptic technique. Therefore, the authors sought to evaluate the incidence of VAD access-associated infections in the literature and compare them with the rate of infection found at our institution. We also highlight the use of a preassembled VAD access kit and standardized access protocol, as well as the role of provider education, in maintaining safety and sterility during serial VAD access. METHODS: A single-institution retrospective review was performed for PHH patients younger than 1 year old undergoing serial CSF aspirations via implanted VADs (2009-2019). Patients were excluded if they had a ventriculoperitoneal shunt placed as primary intervention. MEDLINE search for reports of serial VAD access in PHH was also performed. Reports were excluded if they did not include full-text articles in the English literature. RESULTS: At our institution, subcutaneous reservoirs were placed in 37 neonates with PHH for serial CSF aspiration. No infections occurred after a total of 630 taps (average, 17 taps per reservoir; range, 0-83) and 10 420 collective reservoir days (average, 282 per patient; range, 6-3700). Only 2 reservoirs required revision for malfunction. Serial VAD taps for PHH were described in 14 articles in the medical literature, with 7.9% (n = 47/592) of patients reported with tap-related infectious complications. CONCLUSION: A standardized VAD access kit, along with stringent adherence to access protocol, can significantly minimize risk of infection associated with serial VADaccess. These principles can be generalized to percutaneous aspiration of CSF from subcutaneous reservoirs placed for other indications to promote safety and sterility of this common procedure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-17
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Nursing
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Medical–Surgical


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