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BACKGROUND: It is controversial whether regular changes of external ventricular drains can reduce cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) infection. OBJECTIVE: To carry out a randomised controlled clinical trial over a two year period to determine whether a regular change of ventricular catheter every five days could reduce CSF infection and improve outcome. METHODS: 103 patients requiring external ventricular drains for more than five days and with no evidence of concurrent CSF infection were studied. The patients were randomised to regular change of ventricular catheter (every five days) and no change unless clinically indicated. RESULTS: The CSF infection rates were 7.8% for the catheter change group and 3.8% for the no change group, respectively (rate ratio = 1.80, 95% confidence interval 0.33 to 9.81, p = 0.50). No significant difference was found in intensive care unit stay, ward stay, or clinical outcome between the two groups. CONCLUSIONS: Regular changes of ventricular catheter at five day intervals did not reduce the risk of CSF infection. A single external ventricular drain can be employed for as long as clinically indicated.

Original publication




Journal article


J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry

Publication Date





759 - 761


Acinetobacter Infections, Adult, Aged, Bacteriological Techniques, Catheters, Indwelling, Cerebrospinal Fluid, Cerebrospinal Fluid Pressure, Cross Infection, Drug Resistance, Multiple, Female, Humans, Male, Meningitis, Bacterial, Middle Aged, Monitoring, Physiologic, Risk Factors, Staphylococcal Infections, Survival Rate, Treatment Outcome, Ventriculostomy