Childhood hydrocephalus is a common chronic medical condition. However, little is known about the burden of headache and psychological comorbidities in children living with hydrocephalus. The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence and severity of these conditions among the pediatric hydrocephalus population.
During routine neurosurgery clinic visits from July 2017 to February 2018, the authors administered four surveys to children ages 7 years and older: Pediatric Migraine Disability Assessment (PedMIDAS), Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) Anxiety, PROMIS Depression, and PROMIS Fatigue. The PedMIDAS is an assessment of headache disability in pediatric and adolescent patients. The PROMIS measures are pediatric self-reported instruments to assess social and emotional health. PROMIS measures utilize T-scores (mean 50, SD 10) to compare anxiety, depression, and fatigue in specific populations to those in the US general population. Clinical and demographic data were collected from the medical record (hydrocephalus etiology, shunt infection, race, etc.) and tested for associations with survey measure scores.
Forty children completed the PedMIDAS. Ten percent of them were in the severe headache range, 5% were in the moderate range, and 5% were in the mild range. There was a statistically significant association between undergoing a cluster of shunt operations and headache burden (p = 0.003).Forty children completed all three PROMIS measures. The mean anxiety score was 45.8 (SD 11.7), and 2.5% of children scored in the severe anxiety range, 17.5% in the moderate range, and 20% in the mild range. The mean depression score was 42.7 (SD 10.0), with 2.5% of children scoring in the severe depression range, 5% in the moderate range, and 12.5% in the mild range. The mean fatigue score was 45.1 (SD 16.4), with 15% percent of children scoring in the severe fatigue range, 10% in the moderate range, and 7.5% in the mild range. There were no statistically significant associations between child anxiety, depression, or fatigue and clinical or demographic variables.
Children with hydrocephalus have an average burden of headache, anxiety, depression, and fatigue as compared to the general population overall. Having a cluster of shunt operations correlates with a higher headache burden, but no clinical or demographic variable is associated with anxiety, depression, or fatigue.

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