Infectious risk to ventriculo-peritoneal shunts from gastrointestinal surgery in the pediatric population

Document Type



Paediatric Surgery


Purpose: The infectious implication of abdominal surgeries on ventriculo-peritoneal (VP) shunts, including simultaneous shunt placement and management of shunt infections, has been ill defined in children.
Methods: We conducted a 9-year retrospective review of pediatric patients with VP shunts who underwent abdominal surgeries.
Results: Forty-two patients fit criteria. The median age at shunt placement was 1.75 years, and the median time between shunt placement and abdominal surgery was 24 days. The most common procedures included gastrostomy (17), fundoplication (15), and appendectomy (3). Seven patients had simultaneous abdominal surgery and shunt placement. All patients received preoperative antibiotics. Two children developed shunt infections, both occurred after appendectomy. Both were treated with antibiotics, with one requiring shunt removal. Median length of stay was 24 days but 28 days for those with infections. Thirty-eight patients were discharged home, 3 to chronic care facilities, and 1 died.
Conclusions: Infections did not occur in children with VP shunts undergoing elective abdominal procedures or procedures simultaneously with shunt insertion. Infections were seen only with emergent appendectomies, suggesting that performing gastrointestinal procedures at the time of VP shunt insertion is safe. Children with VP shunts undergoing emergent surgery for peritoneal infection warrant close observation for shunt infection.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Journal of Pediatric Surgery