The subgaleal shunt has been and is currently used for the temporary bypass of the normal cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) pathways. We retrospectively reviewed all subgaleal shunts placed at the Children's Hospital, Birmingham, Ala., USA, from 1993 to the present and examined the life expectancy of revisions of this temporary method of CSF diversion. The average length of survival of primary, secondary and tertiary subgaleal shunts in this population was 37.4, 32.4 and 19.6 days, respectively. This current review demonstrates that the majority of patients in whom a subgaleal shunt is utilized may continue to obtain therapeutic diversion of their CSF for greater than 2.5 months with intermittent subgaleal shunt revisions. In the majority of cases, this length of time is sufficient to manage and resolve issues that would make ventriculoperitoneal shunting undesirable. Copyright © 2003 S. Karger AG, Basel.