Peripheral white blood cell count as a screening tool for ventriculostomy-related infections

Peyton L. Nisson, Whitney S. James, Michael B. Gaub, Mark Borgstrom, Martin E Weinand, Rein Anton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


One of the most common complications following external ventricular drain (EVD) placement is infection. Routine cultures of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) are often used to screen for infection, however several days may pass before infection is discovered. In this study, we compared the predictive value of daily recorded vital sign parameters and peripheral white blood count (WBC) in identifying ventriculostomy-related infections. Patients with EVDs who had CSF cultures for microorganisms performed between January 2011 and July 2017 were assigned to either an infected and/or uninfected study group. Clinical parameters were then compared using t-test, chi squared and multiple logistic regression analyses. Patients of any age and gender were included. One hundred seventy uninfected and 10 infected subjects were included in the study. Nine of the 10 infected patients had an elevated WBC (>10.4 × 103/μL), with a significantly greater WBC (15.9 × 103/μL) than the uninfected group (10.4 × 103/μL) (p-value ≤ 0.0001). Using logistic regression, we found no association between patient vital signs and CSF infection except for WBC (p = .003). As a diagnostic marker for CSF infection, the sensitivity and specificity of WBC elevation greater than 15 × 103/μL was 70% (7/10) and 90.2% (147/163), respectively. This study serves as a ‘proof of concept’ that WBC could be useful as potential screening tool for early detection of CSF infection post-EVD placement. Future investigation using a large, multicenter prospective study is needed to further assess the applicability of this parameter.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-58
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical Neuroscience
StatePublished - Sep 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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