Thrombus formation around the intracardiac end of the catheter, thromboembolism, and infection are the most important and life-threatening complications of ventriculoatrial shunts. In this article we report a patient with a large right atrial mass that was diagnosed by 2-D echocardiogram and removed via standard median sternotomy and cardiopulmonary bypass.
A 63-year-old man who had a right ventriculoatrial shunt was admitted to our department in a septic clinical condition. His hemoglobin was 10.7 grams, white blood cell count was 22,900/mm3, and sedimentation rate was 50 mm/hr. Blood cultures grew coagulase negative staphylococcus. The echocardiogram showed a right atrial mass at the tip of the shunt catheter. The mass had a cystic and "glove-like" appearance and had a pendulous motion in the right atrium. After combined antibiotic therapy for 10 days, symptoms were relieved but echocardiographic findings did not change. A surgical approach was chosen because of the unchanged size of the mass and the risk of pulmonary embolism. First, the distal part of the ventriculoatrial shunt was separated from its pump and a new ventriculoperitoneal shunt was placed. After this, a standard median sternotomy, cardiopulmonary bypass and right atriotomy was performed. The tip of the shunt catheter with the attached pedunculated mass was removed.
There are few cases of a large right atrial thrombus secondary to a ventriculoatrial shunt in the literature. Because of these serious complications of ventriculoatrial shunting, careful 2-D transthoracic echocardiographic examination should be mandatory for patients with ventriculoatrial shunts.
Surgical Neurology 08/1999; 52(1):54-60; discussion 60-1. DOI:10.1016/S0090-3019(99)00044-0 · 1.67 Impact Factor