Respirology Case Reports (Nov 2020)

Worsening respiratory failure in an adult hydrocephalic patient with a ventriculo‐pleural shunt

  • Edmond Wong,
  • Vishnu Jeganathan,
  • Samuel Wreghitt,
  • Gavin Davis,
  • Hari Wimaleswaran,
  • Mark E Howard

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 8, no. 8
pp. n/a – n/a


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Abstract Ventriculo‐pleural (VPL) shunt insertion is performed in hydrocephalic patients when alternative sites of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) diversion are contraindicated. These include patients with peritoneal complications from ventriculo‐peritoneal shunts. Despite its utility, VPL shunts are uncommon. Hydrothoraces should be considered as a potential cause of dyspnoea in the setting of a VPL shunt. We present a case of worsening respiratory failure in the setting of a massive CSF hydrothorax in a hydrocephalic patient with a VPL shunt to highlight this potential complication of pleural CSF diversion, and present a potential management strategy in patients with premorbid underlying lung pathology. In this case, the hydrothorax was drained and the shunt was converted to ventriculo‐atrial (VA) shunt.