Spontaneous Migration of a Ventriculoperitoneal Shunt into the Venous System: A Multidisciplinary Approach


Neurosurgery, Advocate BroMenn Medical Center


Ventriculoperitoneal shunt catheter migration is a rare but documented complication. The exact mechanism of this occurrence is not well understood. We report the case of an 81-year-old male who initially presented with symptoms consistent with normal pressure hydrocephalus. A ventriculoperitoneal shunt was placed uneventfully. Four months later, the patient presented complaining of a persistent headache despite multiple adjustments in the shunt setting. Shunt series radiographs demonstrated the distal catheter passing through the superior vena cava and looping into the right cardiac atrium and ventricle. Catheter retrieval was attempted from a proximal retroauricular incision but required a combination of snare technique by interventional radiology and, ultimately, surgical venotomy by a cardiothoracic surgeon. The distal catheter was replaced in the abdomen, and the patient had no further complications. This case is the first of its kind reported in the literature that includes a treatment team comprising neurosurgery, interventional radiology, and cardiothoracic surgery. We highlight the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to best address the migrated catheter.

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