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Papers of the Week

2022 Mar 18

Children (Basel)



Differential Diagnosis of Cyclic Vomiting and Periodic Headaches in a Child with Ventriculoperitoneal Shunt: Case Report of Chronic Shunt Overdrainage.


Mauritz M D, Hasan C, Schreiber L, Wegener-Panzer A, Barth S, Zernikow B
Children (Basel). 2022 Mar 18; 9(3).
PMID: 35327804.


Fourteen months after the implantation of a ventriculoperitoneal shunt catheter, a six-year-old boy developed recurrent, severe headaches and vomiting every three weeks. The attacks were of such severity that hospitalizations for analgesic and antiemetic therapies and intravenous rehydration and electrolyte substitution were repeatedly required. The patient was asymptomatic between the attacks. After an extensive diagnostic workup-including repeated magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and neurosurgical examinations-common differential diagnoses, including shunt overdrainage, were ruled out. The patient was transferred to a specialized pediatric pain clinic with suspected cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS). Despite intensive and in part experimental prophylactic and abortive pharmacological treatment, there was no improvement in his symptoms. Consecutive MRI studies reinvestigating the initially excluded shunt overdrainage indicated an overdrainage syndrome. Subsequently, the symptoms disappeared after disconnecting the shunt catheter. This case report shows that even if a patient meets CVS case definitions, other differential diagnoses must be carefully reconsidered to avoid fixation error.