Progressive cranial nerve palsy following shunt placement in an isolated fourth ventricle. Case report

Dachling Pang, Marike Zwienenberg-Lee, Matthew Smith, John Zovickian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Cranial nerve palsy is rarely seen after shunt placement in an isolated fourth ventricle. In the few reports of this complication, neuropathies are thought to be caused by catheter injury to the brainstem nuclei either during the initial cannulations or after shrinkage of the fourth ventricle. The authors treated a child who suffered from delayed, progressive palsies of the sixth, seventh, 10th, and 12th cranial nerves several weeks after undergoing ventriculoperitoneal shunt placement in the fourth ventricle. Magnetic resonance imaging revealed the catheter tip to be placed well away from the ventricular floor but the brainstem had severely shifted backward, suggesting that the pathogenesis of the neuropathies was traction on the affected cranial nerves. The authors postulated that the siphoning effect of the shunt caused rapid collapse of the fourth ventricle and while the cerebellar hemispheres were tented back by adhesions to the dura, the brainstem became the only mobile component in response to the suction forces. Neurological recovery occurred after surgical opening of the closed fourth ventricle and lysis of the basal cistern adhesions, which restored moderate ventricular volume and released the brainstem to its normal position.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)326-331
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery
Issue numberSUPPL. 3
StatePublished - Apr 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Brainstem shift
  • Cranial neuropathy
  • Isolated fourth ventricle
  • Pediatric neurosurgery
  • Shunt

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Progressive cranial nerve palsy following shunt placement in an isolated fourth ventricle. Case report'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this