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Hannah E. Goldstein, Justin A. Neira, Matei Banu, Philipp R. Aldana, Bruno P. Braga, Douglas L. Brockmeyer, Michael L. DiLuna, Daniel H. Fulkerson, Todd C. Hankinson, Andrew H. Jea, Sean M. Lew, David D. Limbrick, Jonathan Martin, Joshua M. Pahys, Luis F. Rodriguez, Curtis J. Rozzelle, Gerald F. Tuite, Nicholas M. Wetjen, and Richard C. E. Anderson

OBJECTIVE

The long-term effects of surgical fusion on the growing subaxial cervical spine are largely unknown. Recent cross-sectional studies have demonstrated that there is continued growth of the cervical spine through the teenage years. The purpose of this multicenter study was to determine the effects of rigid instrumentation and fusion on the growing subaxial cervical spine by investigating vertical growth, cervical alignment, cervical curvature, and adjacent-segment instability over time.

METHODS

A total of 15 centers participated in this multi-institutional retrospective study. Cases involving children less than 16 years of age who underwent rigid instrumentation and fusion of the subaxial cervical spine (C-2 and T-1 inclusive) with at least 1 year of clinical and radiographic follow-up were investigated. Charts were reviewed for clinical data. Postoperative and most recent radiographs, CT, and MR images were used to measure vertical growth and assess alignment and stability.

RESULTS

Eighty-one patients were included in the study, with a mean follow-up of 33 months. Ninety-five percent of patients had complete clinical resolution or significant improvement in symptoms. Postoperative cervical kyphosis was seen in only 4 patients (5%), and none developed a swan-neck deformity, unintended adjacent-level fusion, or instability. Of patients with at least 2 years of follow-up, 62% demonstrated growth across the fusion construct. On average, vertical growth was 79% (4-level constructs), 83% (3-level constructs), or 100% (2-level constructs) of expected growth. When comparing the group with continued vertical growth to the one without growth, there were no statistically significant differences in terms of age, sex, underlying etiology, surgical approach, or number of levels fused.

CONCLUSIONS

Continued vertical growth of the subaxial spine occurs in nearly two-thirds of children after rigid instrumentation and fusion of the subaxial spine. Failure of continued vertical growth is not associated with the patient’s age, sex, underlying etiology, number of levels fused, or surgical approach. Further studies are needed to understand this dichotomy and determine the long-term biomechanical effects of surgery on the growing pediatric cervical spine.

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Laurie L. Ackerman, Daniel H. Fulkerson, Andrew Jea, and Jodi L. Smith

OBJECTIVE

Patients with shunts often interact with providers distant from their primary hospital, making it important that the parent(s)/guardian(s) is well versed in the type of shunt implanted and symptoms of malfunction/infection. This is particularly important with magnetic-sensitive programmable valves, as the use of MRI becomes more prevalent.

METHODS

Over a 6-month period, primary caregivers of 148 consecutive patients who received shunts were prospectively administered questionnaires at clinic visits. Caregivers were asked to do the following: 1) identify shunt valve name, type, and setting if applicable; 2) list symptoms of shunt malfunction/infection; and 3) indicate whether they had access to references regarding shunt type/setting, booklets from the Hydrocephalus Association, and quick reference cards with symptoms of shunt malfunction/infection. One cohort of caregivers (n = 75) was asked to carry informational cards with shunt valve/setting information (group I); this cohort was compared with another subgroup of caregivers (n = 73) not carrying cards (group II).

RESULTS

The mean (± SD) age of patients at implantation/revision was 3.71 ± 4.91 years, and the age at follow-up was 6.12 ± 5.4 years. The average time from surgery to administration of the questionnaire was 2.38 ± 3.22 years. There were 86 new shunt insertions and 62 revisions. One hundred twenty-eight caregivers (87%) could identify the type of valve (programmable vs nonprogrammable). On the other hand, only 72 caregivers (49%) could identify the valve name. Fifty-four of 73 (74%) caregivers of patients who had shunts with programmable valves could correctly identify the valve setting. One hundred caregivers (68%) had a copy of the Hydrocephalus Association booklet, and 103 (70%) had quick reference cards. Eighty caregivers (54%) had references on shunt type/setting. Most caregivers (127 [86%]) could name ≥ 3 signs/symptoms of shunt malfunction, with vomiting (61%), headache (49%), and sleeps more/lethargic (35%) most frequently reported. Caregivers of patients in group I were more likely to have cards with symptoms of shunt infection or malfunction (p = 0.015); have information cards regarding shunt type/setting (p < 0.001); and correctly identify valve type (p = 0.001), name (p < 0.001), and setting if programmable (p = 0.0016). There were no differences in ability to list symptoms of shunt malfunction or infection (p = 0.8812) or in access to Hydrocephalus Association booklets (p = 0.1288). There were no significant demographic differences between the groups, except that group I patients had a shorter time from surgery to last follow-up (1.66 vs 3.17 years; p = 0.0001).

CONCLUSIONS

Education regarding the care of patients with shunts by providing written cards with shunt type/setting and access to reference materials seems to be effective. Developing plans for guided instruction with assessment in the clinic setting of a caregiver’s knowledge is important for patient safety.

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Nicolas Villelli, Natalie Hauser, Thomas Gianaris, Blake A. Froberg, and Daniel H. Fulkerson

The use of ketamine as a drug of abuse has increased and so too has the risk of accidental overdose. Here, the authors report the case of a 10-month-old infant who inadvertently ingested ketamine. The child demonstrated severe cerebellar swelling that required emergency surgical intervention. The authors describe the clinical course of this child and present the radiographic characteristics of the brain. The imaging characteristics were not consistent with purely anoxic injury, thus suggesting a specific effect of this drug. To the authors’ knowledge, similar imaging characteristics in this context have not been described.

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Thomas J. Gianaris, Ryan Nazar, Emily Middlebrook, David D. Gonda, Andrew Jea, and Daniel H. Fulkerson

OBJECTIVE

Endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) is a surgical alternative to placing a CSF shunt in certain patients with hydrocephalus. The ETV Success Score (ETVSS) is a reliable, simple method to estimate the success of the procedure by 6 months of postoperative follow-up. The highest score is 90, estimating a 90% chance of the ETV effectively treating hydrocephalus without requiring a shunt. Treatment with ETV fails in certain patients, despite their being the theoretically best candidates for the procedure. In this study the authors attempted to identify factors that further predicted success in patients with the highest ETVSSs.

METHODS

A retrospective review was performed of all patients treated with ETV at 3 institutions. Demographic, radiological, and clinical data were recorded. All patients by definition were older than 1 year, had obstructive hydrocephalus, and did not have a prior shunt. Failure of ETV was defined as the need for a shunt by 1 year. The ETV was considered a success if the patient did not require another surgery (either shunt placement or a repeat endoscopic procedure) by 1 year. A statistical analysis was performed to identify factors associated with success or failure.

RESULTS

Fifty-nine patients met the entry criteria for the study. Eleven patients (18.6%) required further surgery by 1 year. All of these patients received a shunt. The presenting symptom of lethargy statistically correlated with success (p = 0.0126, odds ratio [OR] = 0.072). The preoperative radiological finding of transependymal flow (p = 0.0375, OR 0.158) correlated with success. A postoperative larger maximum width of the third ventricle correlated with failure (p = 0.0265).

CONCLUSIONS

The preoperative findings of lethargy and transependymal flow statistically correlated with success. This suggests that the best candidates for ETV are those with a relatively acute elevation of intracranial pressure. Cases without these findings may represent the failures in this highly selected group.

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Jonathan N. Sellin, William J. Steele III, Lauren Simpson, Wei X. Huff, Brandon C. Lane, Joshua J. Chern, Daniel H. Fulkerson, Christina M. Sayama, and Andrew Jea

OBJECTIVE

The Thoracolumbar Injury Classification and Severity Score (TLICS) system was developed to streamline injury assessment and guide surgical decision making. To the best of the authors' knowledge, external validation in the pediatric age group has not been undertaken prior to this report.

METHODS

This study evaluated the use of the TLICS in a large retrospective series of children and adolescents treated at 4 pediatric medical centers (Texas Children's Hospital, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Riley Children's Hospital, and Doernbecher Children's Hospital). A total of 147 patients treated for traumatic thoracic or lumbar spine trauma between February 1, 2002, and September 1, 2015, were included in this study. Clinical and radiographic data were evaluated. Injuries were classified using American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) status, Denis classification, and TLICS.

RESULTS

A total of 102 patients (69%) were treated conservatively, and 45 patients (31%) were treated surgically. All patients but one in the conservative group were classified as ASIA E. In this group, 86/102 patients (84%) had Denis type compression injuries. The TLICS in the conservative group ranged from 1 to 10 (mean 1.6). Overall, 93% of patients matched TLICS conservative treatment recommendations (score ≤ 3). No patients crossed over to the surgical group in delayed fashion.

In the surgical group, 26/45 (58%) were ASIA E, whereas 19/45 (42%) had neurological deficits (ASIA A, B, C, or D). One of 45 (2%) patients was classified with Denis type compression injuries; 25/45 (56%) were classified with Denis type burst injuries; 14/45 (31%) were classified with Denis type seat belt injuries; and 5/45 (11%) were classified with Denis type fracture-dislocation injuries. The TLICS ranged from 2 to 10 (mean 6.4). Eighty-two percent of patients matched TLICS surgical treatment recommendations (score ≥ 5). No patients crossed over to the conservative management group. Eight patients (8/147, 5%) had a calculated TLICS of 4, which meant they were candidates for surgery or conservative therapy by TLICS criteria. Excluding these patients, the degree of agreement between TLICS and surgeon decision was deemed to be very good (κ = 0.878).

CONCLUSIONS

The TLICS results and recommendations matched treatment in 96% of conservative group cases. In the surgical group, TLICS recommendations matched treatment in 93% of cases. The TLICS recommendations and surgeon decision making displayed very good concordance. The TLICS appears to be effective in the classification of thoracic and lumbar spine injuries and in guiding treatment in the pediatric age group.

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Ian K. White, Ecaterina Pestereva, Kashif A. Shaikh, and Daniel H. Fulkerson

OBJECTIVE

Children with skull fractures are often transferred to hospitals with pediatric neurosurgical capabilities. Historical data suggest that a small percentage of patients with an isolated skull fracture will clinically decline. However, recent papers have suggested that the risk of decline in certain patients is low. There are few data regarding the financial costs associated with transporting patients at low risk for requiring specialty care. In this study, the clinical outcomes and financial costs of transferring of a population of children with isolated skull fractures to a Level 1 pediatric trauma center over a 9-year period were analyzed.

METHODS

A retrospective review of all children treated for head injury at Riley Hospital for Children (Indianapolis, Indiana) between 2005 and 2013 was performed. Patients with a skull fracture were identified based on ICD-9 codes. Patients with intracranial hematoma, brain parenchymal injury, or multisystem trauma were excluded. Children transferred to Riley Hospital from an outside facility were identified. The clinical and radiographic outcomes were recorded. A cost analysis was performed on patients who were transferred with an isolated, linear, nondisplaced skull fracture.

RESULTS

Between 2005 and 2013, a total of 619 pediatric patients with isolated skull fractures were transferred. Of these, 438 (70.8%) patients had a linear, nondisplaced skull fracture. Of these 438 patients, 399 (91.1%) were transferred by ambulance and 39 (8.9%) by helicopter. Based on the current ambulance and helicopter fees, a total of $1,834,727 (an average of $4188.90 per patient) was spent on transfer fees alone. No patient required neurosurgical intervention. All patients recovered with symptomatic treatment; no patient suffered late decline or epilepsy.

CONCLUSIONS

This study found that nearly $2 million was spent solely on transfer fees for 438 pediatric patients with isolated linear skull fractures over a 9-year period. All patients in this study had good clinical outcomes, and none required neurosurgical intervention. Based on these findings, the authors suggest that, in the absence of abuse, most children with isolated, linear, nondisplaced skull fractures do not require transfer to a Level 1 pediatric trauma center. The authors suggest ideas for further study to refine the protocols for determining which patients require transport.

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Shaheryar F. Ansari, Reilin J. Moore, Joel C. Boaz, and Daniel H. Fulkerson

OBJECT

Radioactive phosphorus-32 (P32) has been used as brachytherapy for craniopharyngiomas with the hope of providing local control of enlarging tumor cysts. Brachytherapy has commonly been used as an adjunct to the standard treatment of surgery and external-beam radiation (EBR). Historically, multimodal treatment, including EBR, has shown tumor control rates as high as 70% at 10 years after treatment. However, EBR is associated with significant long-term risks, including visual deficits, endocrine dysfunction, and cognitive decline. Theoretically, brachytherapy may provide focused local radiation that controls or shrinks a symptomatic cyst without exposing the patient to the risks of EBR. For this study, the authors reviewed their experiences with craniopharyngioma patients treated with P32 brachytherapy as the primary treatment without EBR. The authors reviewed these patients' records to evaluate whether this strategy effectively controls tumor growth, thus avoiding the need for further surgery or EBR.

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective review of pediatric patients treated for craniopharyngioma between 1997 and 2004. This was the time period during which the authors' institution had a relatively high use of P32 for treatment of cystic craniopharyngioma. All patients who had surgery and injection of P32 without EBR were identified. The patient records were analyzed for complications, cyst control, need for further surgery, and need for future EBR.

RESULTS

Thirty-eight patients were treated for craniopharyngioma during the study period. Nine patients (23.7%) were identified who had surgery (resection or biopsy) with P32 brachytherapy but without initial EBR. These 9 patients represented the study group. For 1 patient (11.1%), there was a complication with the brachytherapy procedure. Five patients (55.5%) required subsequent surgery. Seven patients (77.7%) required subsequent EBR for tumor growth. The mean time between the injection of P32 and subsequent treatment was 1.67 ± 1.50 years (mean ± SD).

CONCLUSIONS

In this small but focused population, P32 treatment provided limited local control for cyst growth. Brachytherapy alone did not reliably avert the need for subsequent surgery or EBR.

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Timothy J. Kovanda, Shaheryar F. Ansari, Rabia Qaiser, and Daniel H. Fulkerson

OBJECT

Rigid screw fixation may be technically difficult in the upper cervical spine of young children. Intraoperative stereotactic navigation may potentially assist a surgeon in precise placement of screws in anatomically challenging locations. Navigation may also assist in defining abnormal anatomy. The object of this study was to evaluate the authors’ initial experience with the feasibility and accuracy of this technique, both for resection and for screw placement in the upper cervical spine in younger children.

METHODS

Eight consecutive pediatric patients 10 years of age or younger underwent upper cervical spine surgery aided by image-guided navigation. The demographic, surgical, and clinical data were recorded. Screw position was evaluated with either an intraoperative or immediately postoperative CT scan.

RESULTS

One patient underwent navigation purely for guidance of bony resection. A total of 14 navigated screws were placed in the other 7 patients, including 5 C-2 pedicle screws. All 14 screws were properly positioned, defined as the screw completely contained within the cortical bone in the expected trajectory. There were no immediate complications associated with navigation.

CONCLUSIONS

Image-guided navigation is feasible within the pediatric cervical spine and may be a useful surgical tool for placing screws in a patient with small, often difficult bony anatomy. The authors describe their experience with their first 8 pediatric patients who underwent navigation in cervical spine surgery. The authors highlight differences in technique compared with similar navigation in adults.

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Daniel H. Fulkerson, Ian K. White, Jacqueline M. Rees, Maraya M. Baumanis, Jodi L. Smith, Laurie L. Ackerman, Joel C. Boaz, and Thomas G. Luerssen

OBJECT

Patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) with low presenting Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) scores have very high morbidity and mortality rates. Neurosurgeons may be faced with difficult decisions in managing the most severely injured (GCS scores of 3 or 4) patients. The situation may be considered hopeless, with little chance of a functional recovery. Long-term data are limited regarding the clinical outcome of children with severe head injury. The authors evaluate predictor variables and the clinical outcomes at discharge, 1 year, and long term (median 10.5 years) in a cohort of children with TBI presenting with postresuscitation GCS scores of 3 and 4.

METHODS

A review of a prospectively collected trauma database was performed. Patients treated at Riley Hospital for Children (Indianapolis, Indiana) from 1988 to 2004 were reviewed. All children with initial GCS (modified for pediatric patients) scores of 3 or 4 were identified. Patients with a GCS score of 3 were compared with those with a GCS score of 4. The outcomes of all patients at the time of death or discharge and at 1-year and long-term follow-up were measured with a modified Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS) that included a “normal” outcome. Long-term outcomes were evaluated by contacting surviving patients. Statistical "classification trees" were formed for survival and outcome, based on predictor variables.

RESULTS

Sixty-seven patients with a GCS score of 3 or 4 were identified in a database of 1636 patients (4.1%). Three of the presenting factors differed between the GCS 3 patients (n = 44) and the GCS 4 patients (n = 23): presence of hypoxia, single seizure, and open basilar cisterns on CT scan. The clinical outcomes were statistically similar between the 2 groups. In total, 48 (71.6%) of 67 patients died, remained vegetative, or were severely disabled by 1 year. Eight patients (11.9%) were normal at 1 year. Ten of the 22 patients with long-term follow-up were either normal or had a GOS score of 5.

Multiple clinical, historical, and radiological factors were analyzed for correlation with survival and clinical outcome. Classification trees were formed to stratify predictive factors. The pupillary response was the factor most predictive of both survival and outcome. Other factors that either positively or negatively correlated with survival included hypothermia, mechanism of injury (abuse), hypotension, major concurrent symptoms, and midline shift on CT scan. Other factors that either positively or negatively predicted long-term outcome included hypothermia, mechanism of injury, and the assessment of the fontanelle.

CONCLUSIONS

In this cohort of 67 TBI patients with a presenting GCS score of 3 or 4, 56.6% died within 1 year. However, approximately 15% of patients had a good outcome at 10 or more years. Factors that correlated with survival and outcome included the pupillary response, hypothermia, and mechanism. The authors discuss factors that may help surgeons make critical decisions regarding their most serious pediatric trauma patients.