Objective—To examine outcome data for cats and dogs with congenital internal hydrocephalus following treatment via ventriculoperitoneal shunting to determine treatment-associated changes in neurologic signs, the nature and incidence of postoperative complications, and survival time.
Design—Retrospective multicenter case series.
Animals—30 dogs and 6 cats with congenital internal hydrocephalus (confirmed via CT or MRI).
Procedures—Medical records for dogs and cats with internal hydrocephalus that underwent unilateral ventriculoperitoneal shunt implantation from 2001 through 2009 were evaluated. Data collected included the nature and incidence of postoperative complications, change in clinical signs following surgery, and survival time. To compare pre- and postoperative signs, 2-way frequency tables were analyzed with a 1-sided exact McNemar test.
Results—8 of 36 (22%) animals developed postoperative complications, including shunt malfunction, shunt infection, and seizure events. Three dogs underwent shunt revision surgery. Thirteen (36%) animals died as a result of hydrocephalus-related complications or were euthanized. Following shunt implantation, clinical signs resolved in 7 dogs and 2 cats; overall, 26 (72%) animals had an improvement of clinical signs. After 18 months, 20 animals were alive, and the longest follow-up period was 9.5 years. Most deaths and complications occurred in the first 3 months after shunt placement.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results indicated that ventriculoperitoneal shunt implantation is a viable option for treatment of dogs or cats with congenital hydrocephalus. Because complications are most likely to develop in the first 3 months after surgery, repeated neurologic and imaging evaluations are warranted during this period.