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Jeffrey L. Nadel, R. Michael Scott, Susan R. Durham, and Cormac O. Maher

OBJECTIVE

The goal of this study was to evaluate trends in pediatric neurosurgical fellowship training in North America.

METHODS

From a database maintained by the Accreditation Council for Pediatric Neurosurgery Fellowships (ACPNF), all graduates of ACPNF-accredited pediatric neurosurgery fellowships were identified, and an Internet search was conducted to determine sex, undergraduate and graduate degrees, location and dates of residency and fellowship training, current practice/employment environment, American Board of Neurological Surgery (ABNS) or Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons certification status, American Board of Pediatric Neurological Surgery (ABPNS) certification status, and extent of current pediatric-focused practice. The graduates were further studied to determine whether they had completed a neurosurgical residency at a program with an affiliated ACPNF-accredited pediatric neurosurgery fellowship program, and their residency training programs were further classified by whether the program was ranked in the top 50 by NIH funding awards. Each fellowship graduate’s current practice was also ranked in a similar fashion.

RESULTS

There were 391 graduates of ACPNF-accredited pediatric neurosurgery fellowship programs from 1993 to 2018. The number of graduates per year has grown steadily over time, as has the percentage of women, now over 40% compared to zero in the first 3 years of fellowship accreditation in the mid-1990s. Approximately 71% of graduating fellows have a pediatric-focused practice, but only 63% went on to attain ABPNS certification. Of all graduates practicing in the United States, 68% practice in academic settings. Ninety-five percent of graduating fellows who were ABNS board eligible were ABNS certified.

CONCLUSIONS

A study of the graduates of accredited pediatric neurosurgical fellowships from 1993 to 2018 has revealed a growth in the number of graduates from ACPNF-accredited fellowship programs over time. A substantial portion of graduates will practice at least some adult neurosurgery and not go on to obtain ABPNS board certification.

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Jeffrey L. Nadel, D. Andrew Wilkinson, Hugh J. L. Garton, Karin M. Muraszko, and Cormac O. Maher

OBJECTIVE

The goal of this study was to determine the rates of screening and surgery for foramen magnum stenosis in children with achondroplasia in a large, privately insured healthcare network.

METHODS

Rates of screening and surgery for foramen magnum stenosis in children with achondroplasia were determined using de-identified insurance claims data from a large, privately insured healthcare network of over 58 million beneficiaries across the United States between 2001 and 2014. Cases of achondroplasia and screening and surgery claims were identified using a combination of International Classification of Diseases diagnosis codes and Current Procedural Terminology codes. American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) practice guidelines were used to determine screening trends.

RESULTS

The search yielded 3577 children age 19 years or younger with achondroplasia. Of them, 236 met criteria for inclusion in the screening analysis. Among the screening cohort, 41.9% received some form of screening for foramen magnum stenosis, whereas 13.9% of patients were fully and appropriately screened according to the 2005 guidelines from the AAP. The screening rate significantly increased after the issuance of the AAP guidelines. Among all children in the cohort, 25 underwent cervicomedullary decompression for foramen magnum stenosis. The incidence rate of undergoing cervicomedullary decompression was highest in infancy (28 per 1000 patient-years) and decreased with age (5 per 1000 patient-years for all other ages combined).

CONCLUSIONS

Children with achondroplasia continue to be underscreened for foramen magnum stenosis, although screening rates have improved since the release of the 2005 AAP surveillance guidelines. The incidence of surgery was highest in infants and decreased with age.

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Nikita G. Alexiades, Edward S. Ahn, Jeffrey P. Blount, Douglas L. Brockmeyer, Samuel R. Browd, Gerald A. Grant, Gregory G. Heuer, Todd C. Hankinson, Bermans J. Iskandar, Andrew Jea, Mark D. Krieger, Jeffrey R. Leonard, David D. Limbrick Jr., Cormac O. Maher, Mark R. Proctor, David I. Sandberg, John C. Wellons III, Belinda Shao, Neil A. Feldstein, and Richard C. E. Anderson

OBJECTIVE

Complications after complex tethered spinal cord (cTSC) surgery include infections and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leaks. With little empirical evidence to guide management, there is variability in the interventions undertaken to limit complications. Expert-based best practices may improve the care of patients undergoing cTSC surgery. Here, authors conducted a study to identify consensus-driven best practices.

METHODS

The Delphi method was employed to identify consensual best practices. A literature review regarding cTSC surgery together with a survey of current practices was distributed to 17 board-certified pediatric neurosurgeons. Thirty statements were then formulated and distributed to the group. Results of the second survey were discussed during an in-person meeting leading to further consensus, which was defined as ≥ 80% agreement on a 4-point Likert scale (strongly agree, agree, disagree, strongly disagree).

RESULTS

Seventeen consensus-driven best practices were identified, with all participants willing to incorporate them into their practice. There were four preoperative interventions: (1, 2) asymptomatic AND symptomatic patients should be referred to urology preoperatively, (3, 4) routine preoperative urine cultures are not necessary for asymptomatic AND symptomatic patients. There were nine intraoperative interventions: (5) patients should receive perioperative cefazolin or an equivalent alternative in the event of allergy, (6) chlorhexidine-based skin preparation is the preferred regimen, (7) saline irrigation should be used intermittently throughout the case, (8) antibiotic-containing irrigation should be used following dural closure, (9) a nonlocking running suture technique should be used for dural closure, (10) dural graft overlay should be used when unable to obtain primary dural closure, (11) an expansile dural graft should be incorporated in cases of lipomyelomeningocele in which primary dural closure does not permit free flow of CSF, (12) paraxial muscles should be closed as a layer separate from the fascia, (13) routine placement of postoperative drains is not necessary. There were three postoperative interventions: (14) postoperative antibiotics are an option and, if given, should be discontinued within 24 hours; (15) patients should remain flat for at least 24 hours postoperatively; (16) routine use of abdominal binders or other compressive devices postoperatively is not necessary. One intervention was prioritized for additional study: (17) further study of additional gram-negative perioperative coverage is needed.

CONCLUSIONS

A modified Delphi technique was used to develop consensus-driven best practices for decreasing wound complications after cTSC surgery. Further study is required to determine if implementation of these practices will lead to reduced complications. Discussion through the course of this study resulted in the initiation of a multicenter study of gram-negative surgical site infections in cTSC surgery.

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Siri Sahib S. Khalsa, Ndi Geh, Bryn A. Martin, Philip A. Allen, Jennifer Strahle, Francis Loth, Desale Habtzghi, Aintzane Urbizu Serrano, Daniel McQuaide, Hugh J. L. Garton, Karin M. Muraszko, and Cormac O. Maher

OBJECTIVE

Chiari malformation Type I (CM-I) is typically defined on imaging by a cerebellar tonsil position ≥ 5 mm below the foramen magnum. Low cerebellar tonsil position is a frequent incidental finding on brain or cervical spine imaging, even in asymptomatic individuals. Nonspecific symptoms (e.g., headache and neck pain) are common in those with low tonsil position as well as in those with normal tonsil position, leading to uncertainty regarding appropriate management for many patients with low tonsil position and nonspecific symptoms. Because cerebellar tonsil position is not strictly correlated with the presence of typical CM-I symptoms, the authors sought to determine if other 2D morphometric or 3D volumetric measurements on MRI could distinguish between patients with asymptomatic and symptomatic CM-I.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively analyzed records of 102 pediatric patients whose records were in the University of Michigan clinical CM-I database. All patients in this database had cerebellar tonsil position ≥ 5 mm below the foramen magnum. Fifty-one symptomatic and 51 asymptomatic patients were matched for age at diagnosis, sex, tonsil position, and tonsil morphology. National Institutes of Health ImageJ software was used to obtain six 2D anatomical MRI measurements, and a semiautomated segmentation tool was used to obtain four 3D volumetric measurements of the posterior fossa and CSF subvolumes on MRI.

RESULTS

No significant differences were observed between patients with symptomatic and asymptomatic CM-I related to tentorium length (50.3 vs 51.0 mm; p = 0.537), supraoccipital length (39.4 vs 42.6 mm; p = 0.055), clivus-tentorium distance (52.0 vs 52.1 mm; p = 0.964), clivus-torcula distance (81.5 vs 83.3 mm; p = 0.257), total posterior fossa volume (PFV; 183.4 vs 190.6 ml; p = 0.250), caudal PFV (152.5 vs 159.8 ml; p = 0.256), fourth ventricle volume to caudal PFV ratio (0.0140 vs 0.0136; p = 0.649), or CSF volume to caudal PFV ratio (0.071 vs 0.061; p = 0.138).

CONCLUSIONS

No clinically useful 2D or 3D measurements were identified that could reliably distinguish pediatric patients with symptoms attributable to CM-I from those with asymptomatic CM-I.

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D. Andrew Wilkinson, Kyle Johnson, Hugh J. L. Garton, Karin M. Muraszko, and Cormac O. Maher

OBJECTIVE

The goal of this analysis was to define temporal and geographic trends in the surgical treatment of Chiari malformation Type I (CM-I) in a large, privately insured health care network.

METHODS

The authors examined de-identified insurance claims data from a large, privately insured health care network of over 58 million beneficiaries throughout the United States for the period between 2001 and 2014 for all patients undergoing surgical treatment of CM-I. Using a combination of International Classification of Diseases (ICD) diagnosis codes and Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes, the authors identified CM-I and associated diagnoses and procedures over a 14-year period, highlighting temporal and geographic trends in the performance of CM-I decompression (CMD) surgery as well as commonly associated procedures.

RESULTS

There were 2434 surgical procedures performed for CMD among the beneficiaries during the 14-year interval; 34% were performed in patients younger than 20 years of age. The rate of CMD increased 51% from the first half to the second half of the study period among younger patients (p < 0.001) and increased 28% among adult patients between 20 and 65 years of age (p < 0.001). A large sex difference was noted among adult patients; 78% of adult patients undergoing CMD were female compared with only 53% of the children. Pediatric patients undergoing CMD were more likely to be white with a higher household net worth. Regional variability was identified among rates of CMD as well. The average annual rate of surgery ranged from 0.8 surgeries per 100,000 insured person-years in the Pacific census division to 2.0 surgeries per 100,000 insured person-years in the East South Central census division.

CONCLUSIONS

Analysis of a large nationwide health care network showed recently increasing rates of CMD in children and adults over the past 14 years.

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Kyle T. Johnson, Wajd N. Al-Holou, Richard C. E. Anderson, Thomas J. Wilson, Tejas Karnati, Mohannad Ibrahim, Hugh J. L. Garton, and Cormac O. Maher

OBJECTIVE

Our understanding of pediatric cervical spine development remains incomplete. The purpose of this analysis was to quantitatively define cervical spine growth in a population of children with normal CT scans.

METHODS

A total of 1458 children older than 1 year and younger than 18 years of age who had undergone a cervical spine CT scan at the authors' institution were identified. Subjects were separated by sex and age (in years) into 34 groups. Following this assignment, subjects within each group were randomly selected for inclusion until a target of 15 subjects in each group had been measured. Linear measurements were performed on the midsagittal image of the cervical spine. Twenty-three unique measurements were obtained for each subject.

RESULTS

Data showed that normal vertical growth of the pediatric cervical spine continues up to 18 years of age in boys and 14 years of age in girls. Approximately 75% of the vertical growth occurs throughout the subaxial spine and 25% occurs across the craniovertebral region. The C-2 body is the largest single-segment contributor to vertical growth, but the subaxial vertebral bodies and disc spaces also contribute. Overall vertical growth of the cervical spine throughout childhood is dependent on individual vertebral body growth as well as vertical growth of the disc spaces. The majority of spinal canal diameter growth occurs by 4 years of age.

CONCLUSIONS

The authors' morphometric analyses establish parameters for normal pediatric cervical spine growth up to 18 years of age. These data should be considered when evaluating children for potential surgical intervention and provide a basis of comparison for studies investigating the effects of cervical spine instrumentation and fusion on subsequent growth.

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Jennifer Strahle, Béla J. Selzer, Ndi Geh, Dushyanth Srinivasan, MaryKathryn Strahle, Meleine Martinez-Sosa, Karin M. Muraszko, Hugh J. L. Garton, and Cormac O. Maher

OBJECT

There is currently no consensus on the safety of sports participation for patients with an intracranial arachnoid cyst (AC). The authors' goal was to define the risk of sports participation for children with this imaging finding.

METHODS

A survey was prospectively administered to 185 patients with ACs during a 46-month period at a single institution. Cyst size and location, treatment, sports participation, and any injuries were recorded. Eighty patients completed at least 1 subsequent survey following their initial entry into the registry, and these patients were included in a prospective registry with a mean prospective follow-up interval of 15.9 ± 8.8 months.

RESULTS

A total 112 patients with ACs participated in 261 sports for a cumulative duration of 4410 months or 1470 seasons. Of these, 94 patients participated in 190 contact sports for a cumulative duration of 2818 months or 939 seasons. There were no serious or catastrophic neurological injuries. Two patients presented with symptomatic subdural hygromas following minor sports injuries. In the prospective cohort, there were no neurological injuries

CONCLUSIONS

Permanent or catastrophic neurological injuries are very unusual in AC patients who participate in athletic activities. In most cases, sports participation by these patients is safe.

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Jennifer Strahle, Ndi Geh, Béla J. Selzer, Regina Bower, Mai Himedan, MaryKathryn Strahle, Nicholas M. Wetjen, Karin M. Muraszko, Hugh J. L. Garton, and Cormac O. Maher

OBJECT

There is currently no consensus on the safety of sports participation for patients with Chiari I malformation (CM-I). The authors' goal was to define the risk of sports participation for children with the imaging finding of CM-I.

METHODS

A prospective survey was administered to 503 CM-I patients at 2 sites over a 46-month period. Data were gathered on imaging characteristics, treatment, sports participation, and any sport-related injuries. Additionally, 81 patients completed at least 1 subsequent survey following their initial entry into the registry and were included in a prospective group, with a mean prospective follow-up period of 11 months.

RESULTS

Of the 503 CM-I patients, 328 participated in sports for a cumulative duration of 4641 seasons; 205 of these patients participated in contact sports. There were no serious or catastrophic neurological injuries. One patient had temporary extremity paresthesias that resolved within hours, and this was not definitely considered to be related to the CM-I. In the prospective cohort, there were no permanent neurological injuries.

CONCLUSIONS

No permanent or catastrophic neurological injuries were observed in CM-I patients participating in athletic activities. The authors believe that the risk of such injuries is low and that, in most cases, sports participation by children with CM-I is safe.

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Jennifer Strahle and Cormac O. Maher