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PurposeTo review the use of different valve types in infants with hydrocephalus, in doing so, determining whether an optimal valve choice exists for this patient cohort.MethodsWe conducted (1) a literature review for all studies describing valve types used (programmable vs. non-programmable, valve size, pressure) in infants (≤ 2 years) with hydrocephalus, (2) a review of data from the pivotal BASICS trial for infant patients and (3) a separate, institutional cohort study from Alder Hey Children's Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. The primary outcome was any revision not due to infection.ResultsThe search identified 19 studies that were included in the review. Most did not identify a superior valve choice between programmable and non-programmable, small compared to ultra-small, and differential pressure compared to flow-regulating valves. Five studies investigated a single-valve type without a comparator group. The BASICS data identified 391 infants, with no statistically significant difference between gravitational and programmable subgroups. The institutional data from our tertiary referral centre did not reveal any significant difference in failure rate between valve subtypes.ConclusionOur review highlights the challenges of valve selection in infant hydrocephalus, reiterating that the concept of an optimal valve choice in this group remains a controversial one. While the infant-hydrocephalic population is at high risk of valve failure, heterogeneity and a lack of direct comparison between valves in the literature limit our ability to draw meaningful conclusions. Data that does exist suggests at present that there is no difference in non-infective failure rate are increasing in number, with the British valve subtypes in infant hydrocephalus, supported by both the randomised trial and institutional data in this study.

Original publication




Journal article


Child's nervous system : chns : official journal of the international society for pediatric neurosurgery

Publication Date





3485 - 3495


Department of Neurosurgery, Alder Hey Children's NHS Trust, Liverpool, UK.


Humans, Hydrocephalus, Cerebrospinal Fluid Shunts, Ventriculoperitoneal Shunt, Retrospective Studies, Cohort Studies, Gravitation, Infant, Catheters