Surgical Technique, Postoperative Complications and Outcome in 14 Dogs Treated for Hydrocephalus by Ventriculoperitoneal Shunting


  • Presented in part at the 2008 ACVIM Forum, San Antonio, TX, June 2008.

Corresponding Author
Alberta de Stefani, PhD, Diplomate ECVN, Animal Health Trust, Lanwades Park, Kentford, Newmarket, Suffolk, UK


Objective: To report frequency and type of complications, and outcome in dogs with severe neurologic signs secondary to internal, suspected obstructive hydrocephalus treated by ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunting.

Study Design: Case series.

Animals: Dogs (n=14).

Methods: Medical records (2001–2006) was reviewed for dogs that had VP shunting. Inclusion criteria were complete medical record, progressive forebrain signs unresponsive to medical treatment, normal metabolic profile, negative antibody titers and/or cerebrospinal PCR for Toxoplasma gondii, Neospora caninum, and canine distemper virus, magnetic resonance images of the brain, confirmed diagnosis of VP shunting, and follow-up information.

Results: Hydrocephalus was idiopathic in 5 dogs and acquired (interventricular tumors, intraventricular hemorrhage, inflammatory disease) in 9 dogs. Four dogs developed complications 1 week to 18 months postoperatively, including ventricular catheter migration, infection, shunt under-drainage, kinking of the peritoneal catheter, valve fracture, and abdominal skin necrosis. Three of these dogs had 1 or more successful revision surgeries and 1 dog was successfully treated with antibiotics. All, but 1 dog, were discharged within 1 week of surgery, and had substantial neurologic improvement. Median survival time for all dogs was 320 days (1–2340 days), for dogs with idiopathic hydrocephalus, 274 (60–420) days and for dogs with secondary hydrocephalus, 365 (1–2340) days.

Conclusions: VP shunting was successful in relieving neurologic signs in most dogs and postoperative complications occurred in 29%, but were resolved medically or surgically.