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Jacob K. Greenberg, Donna B. Jeffe, Christopher R. Carpenter, Yan Yan, Jose A. Pineda, Angela Lumba-Brown, Martin S. Keller, Daniel Berger, Robert J. Bollo, Vijay M. Ravindra, Robert P. Naftel, Michael C. Dewan, Manish N. Shah, Erin C. Burns, Brent R. O’Neill, Todd C. Hankinson, William E. Whitehead, P. David Adelson, Mandeep S. Tamber, Patrick J. McDonald, Edward S. Ahn, William Titsworth, Alina N. West, Ross C. Brownson, and David D. Limbrick Jr.

OBJECTIVE

There remains uncertainty regarding the appropriate level of care and need for repeating neuroimaging among children with mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) complicated by intracranial injury (ICI). This study’s objective was to investigate physician practice patterns and decision-making processes for these patients in order to identify knowledge gaps and highlight avenues for future investigation.

METHODS

The authors surveyed residents, fellows, and attending physicians from the following pediatric specialties: emergency medicine; general surgery; neurosurgery; and critical care. Participants came from 10 institutions in the United States and an email list maintained by the Canadian Neurosurgical Society. The survey asked respondents to indicate management preferences for and experiences with children with mTBI complicated by ICI, focusing on an exemplar clinical vignette of a 7-year-old girl with a Glasgow Coma Scale score of 15 and a 5-mm subdural hematoma without midline shift after a fall down stairs.

RESULTS

The response rate was 52% (n = 536). Overall, 326 (61%) respondents indicated they would recommend ICU admission for the child in the vignette. However, only 62 (12%) agreed/strongly agreed that this child was at high risk of neurological decline. Half of respondents (45%; n = 243) indicated they would order a planned follow-up CT (29%; n = 155) or MRI scan (19%; n = 102), though only 64 (12%) agreed/strongly agreed that repeat neuroimaging would influence their management. Common factors that increased the likelihood of ICU admission included presence of a focal neurological deficit (95%; n = 508 endorsed), midline shift (90%; n = 480) or an epidural hematoma (88%; n = 471). However, 42% (n = 225) indicated they would admit all children with mTBI and ICI to the ICU. Notably, 27% (n = 143) of respondents indicated they had seen one or more children with mTBI and intracranial hemorrhage demonstrate a rapid neurological decline when admitted to a general ward in the last year, and 13% (n = 71) had witnessed this outcome at least twice in the past year.

CONCLUSIONS

Many physicians endorse ICU admission and repeat neuroimaging for pediatric mTBI with ICI, despite uncertainty regarding the clinical utility of those decisions. These results, combined with evidence that existing practice may provide insufficient monitoring to some high-risk children, emphasize the need for validated decision tools to aid the management of these patients.

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Jaims Lim, Alan R. Tang, Campbell Liles, Alexander A. Hysong, Andrew T. Hale, Christopher M. Bonfield, Robert P. Naftel, John C. Wellons III, and Chevis N. Shannon

OBJECTIVE

Many studies have aimed to determine the most clinically effective surgical intervention for hydrocephalus. However, the costs associated with each treatment option are poorly understood. In this study, the authors conducted a cost-effectiveness analysis, calculating the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of ventriculoperitoneal shunting (VPS), endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV), and ETV with choroid plexus cauterization (ETV/CPC) in an effort to better understand the clinical effectiveness and costs associated with treating hydrocephalus.

METHODS

The study cohort includes patients under the age of 18 who were initially treated for hydrocephalus between January 2012 and January 2015 at the authors’ institution. Overall treatment costs were calculated using patient-level hospitalization costs and professional fees reimbursable to the hospital and directly related to the initial and follow-up (postoperative day 1 to 12 months) treatment of hydrocephalus. TreeAge Pro was used to conduct the cost-effectiveness analyses.

RESULTS

A total of 147 patients were identified. Based on the initial intervention for hydrocephalus, their cases were classified as follows: 113 VPS, 14 ETV, and 20 ETV/CPC. During the initial intervention, VPS patients required a longer length of stay at 5.6 days, compared to ETV/CPC (3.35 days) and ETV (2.36 days) patients. Failure rates for all treatment options ranged from 29% to 45%, leading to recurrent hydrocephalus and additional surgical intervention between postoperative day 1 and 12 months. Cost-effectiveness analyses found ETV to be less costly and more clinically effective, with an ICER of $94,797 compared to VPS ($130,839) and ETV/CPC ($126,394). However, when stratified by etiology, VPS was found to be more clinically effective and cost-effective in both the myelomeningocele and posthemorrhagic hydrocephalus patient groups with an incremental cost per clinical unit of effectiveness (success or failure of intervention) of $76,620 compared to ETV and ETV/CPC. However, when assessing cases categorized as “other etiologies,” ETV was found to be more cost-effective per clinical unit, with an ICER of $60,061 compared to ETV/CPC ($93,350) and VPS ($142,135).

CONCLUSIONS

This study is one of the first attempts at quantifying the patient-level hospitalization costs associated with surgical management of hydrocephalus in pediatric patients treated in the United States. The results indicate that the conversation regarding CSF diversion techniques must be patient-specific and consider etiology as well as any previous surgical intervention. Again, these findings are short-run observations, and a long-term follow-up study should be conducted to assess the cost of treating hydrocephalus over the lifetime of a patient.

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Christopher M. Bonfield, Rachel Pellegrino, Jillian Berkman, Robert P. Naftel, Chevis N. Shannon, and John C. Wellons III

OBJECTIVE

Both the American Association of Neurological Surgeons/Congress of Neurological Surgeons Joint Section on Pediatric Neurological Surgery (AANS/CNS Pediatric Section) and the International Society for Pediatric Neurosurgery (ISPN) annual meetings provide a platform for pediatric neurosurgeons to present, discuss, and disseminate current academic research. An ultimate goal of these meetings is to publish presented results in peer-reviewed journals. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the publication rates of oral presentations from the 2009, 2010, and 2011 AANS/CNS Pediatric Section and ISPN annual meetings in peer-reviewed journals.

METHODS

All oral presentations from the 2009, 2010, and 2011 AANS/CNS Pediatric Section and ISPN annual meetings were reviewed. Abstracts were obtained from the AANS/CNS Pediatric Section and ISPN conference proceedings, which are available online. Author and title information were used to search PubMed to identify those abstracts that had progressed to publication in peer-reviewed journals. The title of the journal, year of the publication, and authors’ country of origin were also recorded.

RESULTS

Overall, 60.6% of the presented oral abstracts from the AANS/CNS Pediatric Section meetings progressed to publication in peer-reviewed journals, as compared with 40.6% of the ISPN presented abstracts (p = 0.0001). The journals in which the AANS/CNS Pediatric Section abstract-based publications most commonly appeared were Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics (52%), Child’s Nervous System (11%), and Journal of Neurosurgery (8%). The ISPN abstracts most often appeared in the journals Child’s Nervous System (29%), Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics (14%), and Neurosurgery (9%). Overall, more than 90% of the abstract-based articles were published within 4 years after presentation of the abstracts on which they were based.

CONCLUSIONS

Oral abstract presentations at two annual pediatric neurosurgery meetings have publication rates in peer-reviewed journal comparable to those for oral abstracts at other national and international neurosurgery meetings. The vast majority of abstract-based papers are published within 4 years of the meeting at which the abstract was presented; however, the AANS/CNS Pediatric Section abstracts are published at a significantly higher rate than ISPN abstracts, which could indicate the different meeting sizes, research goals, and resources of US authors compared with those of authors from other countries.

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Michael C. Dewan, Jaims Lim, Stephen R. Gannon, David Heaner, Matthew C. Davis, Brandy Vaughn, Joshua J. Chern, Brandon G. Rocque, Paul Klimo Jr., John C. Wellons III, and Robert P. Naftel

OBJECTIVE

It has been suggested that the treatment of infant hydrocephalus results in different craniometric changes depending upon whether ventriculoperitoneal shunt (VPS) placement or endoscopic third ventriculostomy with choroid plexus cauterization (ETV/CPC) is performed. Without an objective and quantitative description of expected changes to the infant cranium and ventricles following ETV/CPC, asserting successful treatment of hydrocephalus is difficult. By comparing infants successfully treated via ETV/CPC or VPS surgery, the authors of this study aimed to define the expected postoperative cranial and ventricular alterations at the time of clinical follow-up.

METHODS

Patients who underwent successful treatment of hydrocephalus at 4 institutions with either VPS placement or ETV/CPC were matched in a 3:1 ratio on the basis of age and etiology. Commonly used cranial parameters (including head circumference [HC], HC z-score, fontanelle status, and frontooccipital horn ratio [FOHR]) were compared pre- and postoperatively between treatment cohorts. First, baseline preoperative values were compared to ensure cohort equivalence. Next, postoperative metrics, including the relative change in metrics, were compared between treatment groups using multivariate linear regression.

RESULTS

Across 4 institutions, 18 ETV/CPC-treated and 54 VPS-treated infants with hydrocephalus were matched and compared at 6 months postoperatively. The most common etiologies of hydrocephalus were myelomeningocele (61%), followed by congenital communicating hydrocephalus (17%), aqueductal stenosis (11%), and intraventricular hemorrhage (6%). The mean age at the time of CSF diversion was similar between ETV/CPC- and VPS-treated patients (3.4 vs 2.9 months; p = 0.69), as were all preoperative cranial hydrocephalus metrics (p > 0.05). Postoperatively, the ventricle size FOHR decreased significantly more following VPS surgery (−0.15) than following ETV/CPC (−0.02) (p < 0.001), yielding a lower postoperative FOHR in the VPS arm (0.42 vs 0.51; p = 0.01). The HC percentile was greater in the ETV/CPC cohort than in the VPS-treated patients (76th vs 54th percentile; p = 0.046). A significant difference in the postoperative z-score was not observed. With both treatment modalities, a bulging fontanelle reliably normalized at last follow-up.

CONCLUSIONS

Clinical and radiographic parameters following successful treatment of hydrocephalus in infants differed between ETV/CPC and VPS treatment. At 6 months post-ETV/CPC, ventricle size remained unchanged, whereas VPS-treated ventricles decreased to a near-normal FOHR. The HC growth control between the procedures was similar, although the final HC percentile may be lower after VPS. The fontanelle remained a reliable indicator of success for both treatments. This study establishes expected cranial and ventricular parameters following ETV/CPC, which may be used to guide preoperative counseling and postoperative decision making.

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Abhaya V. Kulkarni, Jay Riva-Cambrin, Curtis J. Rozzelle, Robert P. Naftel, Jessica S. Alvey, Ron W. Reeder, Richard Holubkov, Samuel R. Browd, D. Douglas Cochrane, David D. Limbrick Jr., Tamara D. Simon, Mandeep Tamber, John C. Wellons III, William E. Whitehead, and John R. W. Kestle

OBJECTIVE

High-quality data comparing endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) with choroid plexus cauterization (CPC) to shunt and ETV alone in North America are greatly lacking. To address this, the Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network (HCRN) conducted a prospective study of ETV+CPC in infants. Here, these prospective data are presented and compared to prospectively collected data from a historical cohort of infants treated with shunt or ETV alone.

METHODS

From June 2014 to September 2015, infants (corrected age ≤ 24 months) requiring treatment for hydrocephalus with anatomy suitable for ETV+CPC were entered into a prospective study at 9 HCRN centers. The rate of procedural failure (i.e., the need for repeat hydrocephalus surgery, hydrocephalus-related death, or major postoperative neurological deficit) was determined. These data were compared with a cohort of similar infants who were treated with either a shunt (n = 969) or ETV alone (n = 74) by creating matched pairs on the basis of age and etiology. These data were obtained from the existing prospective HCRN Core Data Project. All patients were observed for at least 6 months.

RESULTS

A total of 118 infants underwent ETV+CPC (median corrected age 1.3 months; common etiologies including myelomeningocele [30.5%], intraventricular hemorrhage of prematurity [22.9%], and aqueductal stenosis [21.2%]). The 6-month success rate was 36%. The most common complications included seizures (5.1%) and CSF leak (3.4%). Important predictors of treatment success in the survival regression model included older age (p = 0.002), smaller preoperative ventricle size (p = 0.009), and greater degree of CPC (p = 0.02). The matching algorithm resulted in 112 matched pairs for ETV+CPC versus shunt alone and 34 matched pairs for ETV+CPC versus ETV alone. ETV+CPC was found to have significantly higher failure rate than shunt placement (p < 0.001). Although ETV+CPC had a similar failure rate compared with ETV alone (p = 0.73), the matched pairs included mostly infants with aqueductal stenosis and miscellaneous other etiologies but very few patients with intraventricular hemorrhage of prematurity.

CONCLUSIONS

Within a large and broad cohort of North American infants, our data show that overall ETV+CPC appears to have a higher failure rate than shunt alone. Although the ETV+CPC results were similar to ETV alone, this comparison was limited by the small sample size and skewed etiological distribution. Within the ETV+CPC group, greater extent of CPC was associated with treatment success, thereby suggesting that there are subgroups who might benefit from the addition of CPC. Further work will focus on identifying these subgroups.

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Silky Chotai, Bradley S. Guidry, Emily W. Chan, Katherine D. Sborov, Stephen Gannon, Chevis Shannon, Christopher M. Bonfield, John C. Wellons III, and Robert P. Naftel

OBJECTIVE

Readmission and return to operating room after surgery are increasingly being used as a proxy for quality of care. Nearly 60% of these readmissions are unplanned, which translates into billions of dollars in health care costs. The authors set out to analyze the incidence of readmission at their center, to define causes of unplanned readmission, and to determine the preoperative and surgical variables associated with readmissions following pediatric neurosurgery.

METHODS

A total of 536 children who underwent operations for neurosurgical diagnoses between 2012 and 2015 and who were later readmitted were included in the final analysis. Unplanned readmissions were defined to have occurred as a result of complications within 90 days after index surgery. Patient records were retrospectively reviewed to determine the primary diagnosis, surgery indication, and cause of readmission and return to operating room. The cost for index hospitalization, readmission episode, and total cost were derived based on the charges obtained from administrative data. Bivariate and multivariable analyses were conducted.

RESULTS

Of 536 patients readmitted in total, 17.9% (n = 96) were readmitted within 90 days. Of the overall readmissions, 11.9% (n = 64) were readmitted within 30 days, and 5.97% (n = 32) were readmitted between 31 and 90 days. The median duration between discharge and readmission was 20 days (first quartile [Q1]: 9 days, third quartile [Q3]: 36 days). The most common reason for readmission was shunt related (8.2%, n = 44), followed by wound infection (4.7%, n = 25). In the risk-adjusted multivariable logistic regression model for total 90-day readmission, patients with the following characteristics: younger age (p = 0.001, OR 0.886, 95% CI 0.824–0.952); “other” (nonwhite, nonblack) race (p = 0.024, OR 5.49, 95% CI 1.246–24.2); and those born preterm (p = 0.032, OR 2.1, 95% CI 1.1–4.12) had higher odds of being readmitted within 90 days after discharge. The total median cost for patients undergoing surgery in this study cohort was $11,520 (Q1: $7103, Q3: $19,264). For the patients who were readmitted, the median cost for a readmission episode was $8981 (Q1: $5051, Q3: $18,713).

CONCLUSIONS

Unplanned 90-day readmissions in pediatric neurosurgery are primarily due to CSF-related complications. Patients with the following characteristics: young age at presentation; “other” race; and children born preterm have a higher likelihood of being readmitted within 90 days after surgery. The median cost was > $8000, which suggests that the readmission episode can be as expensive as the index hospitalization. Clearly, readmission reduction has the potential for significant cost savings in pediatric neurosurgery. Future efforts, such as targeted education related to complication signs, should be considered in the attempt to reduce unplanned events. Given the single-center, retrospective study design, the results of this study are primarily applicable to this population and cannot necessarily be generalized to other institutions without further study.

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Abbas Rattani, Michael C. Dewan, Vickie Hannig, Robert P. Naftel, John C. Wellons III, and Lori C. Jordan

The authors present a case of monozygotic twins with hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT) who experienced cerebral arteriovenous malformation (AVM) hemorrhage at a very young age. The clinical variables influencing HHT-related AVM rupture are discussed, and questions surrounding the timing of screening and intervention are explored. This is only the second known case of monozygotic HHT twins published in the medical literature, and the youngest pair of first-degree relatives to experience AVM-related cerebral hemorrhage. Evidence guiding the screening and management of familial HHT is lacking, and cases such as this underscore the need for objective and validated protocols.

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William E. Whitehead, Jay Riva-Cambrin, Abhaya V. Kulkarni, John C. Wellons III, Curtis J. Rozzelle, Mandeep S. Tamber, David D. Limbrick Jr., Samuel R. Browd, Robert P. Naftel, Chevis N. Shannon, Tamara D. Simon, Richard Holubkov, Anna Illner, D. Douglas Cochrane, James M. Drake, Thomas G. Luerssen, W. Jerry Oakes, and John R. W. Kestle

OBJECTIVE

Accurate placement of ventricular catheters may result in prolonged shunt survival, but the best target for the hole-bearing segment of the catheter has not been rigorously defined. The goal of the study was to define a target within the ventricle with the lowest risk of shunt failure.

METHODS

Five catheter placement variables (ventricular catheter tip location, ventricular catheter tip environment, relationship to choroid plexus, catheter tip holes within ventricle, and crosses midline) were defined, assessed for interobserver agreement, and evaluated for their effect on shunt survival in univariate and multivariate analyses. De-identified subjects from the Shunt Design Trial, the Endoscopic Shunt Insertion Trial, and a Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network study on ultrasound-guided catheter placement were combined (n = 858 subjects, all first-time shunt insertions, all patients < 18 years old). The first postoperative brain imaging study was used to determine ventricular catheter placement for each of the catheter placement variables.

RESULTS

Ventricular catheter tip location, environment, catheter tip holes within the ventricle, and crosses midline all achieved sufficient interobserver agreement (κ > 0.60). In the univariate survival analysis, however, only ventricular catheter tip location was useful in distinguishing a target within the ventricle with a survival advantage (frontal horn; log-rank, p = 0.0015). None of the other catheter placement variables yielded a significant survival advantage unless they were compared with catheter tips completely not in the ventricle. Cox regression analysis was performed, examining ventricular catheter tip location with age, etiology, surgeon, decade of surgery, and catheter entry site (anterior vs posterior). Only age (p < 0.001) and entry site (p = 0.005) were associated with shunt survival; ventricular catheter tip location was not (p = 0.37). Anterior entry site lowered the risk of shunt failure compared with posterior entry site by approximately one-third (HR 0.65, 95% CI 0.51–0.83).

CONCLUSIONS

This analysis failed to identify an ideal target within the ventricle for the ventricular catheter tip. Unexpectedly, the choice of an anterior versus posterior catheter entry site was more important in determining shunt survival than the location of the ventricular catheter tip within the ventricle. Entry site may represent a modifiable risk factor for shunt failure, but, due to inherent limitations in study design and previous clinical research on entry site, a randomized controlled trial is necessary before treatment recommendations can be made.

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Michael C. Dewan, Jaims Lim, Clinton D. Morgan, Stephen R. Gannon, Chevis N. Shannon, John C. Wellons III, and Robert P. Naftel

OBJECTIVE

Endoscopic third ventriculostomy with choroid plexus cauterization (ETV/CPC) offers an alternative to shunt treatment for infantile hydrocephalus. Diagnosing treatment failure is dependent on infantile hydrocephalus metrics, including head circumference, fontanel quality, and ventricle size. However, it is not clear to what degree these metrics should be expected to change after ETV/CPC. Using these clinical metrics, the authors present and analyze the decision making in cases of ETV/CPC failure.

METHODS

Infantile hydrocephalus metrics, including bulging fontanel, head circumference z-score, and frontal and occipital horn ratio (FOHR), were compared between ETV/CPC failures and successes. Treatment outcome predictive values of metrics individually and in combination were calculated.

RESULTS

Forty-four patients (57% males, median age 1.2 months) underwent ETV/CPC for hydrocephalus; of these patients, 25 (57%) experienced failure at a median time of 51 days postoperatively. Patients experiencing failure were younger than those experiencing successful treatment (0.8 vs 3.9 months, p = 0.01). During outpatient follow-up, bulging anterior fontanel, progressive macrocephaly, and enlarging ventricles each demonstrated a positive predictive value (PPV) of no less than 71%, but a bulging anterior fontanel remained the most predictive indicator of ETV/CPC failure, with a PPV of 100%, negative predictive value of 73%, and sensitivity of 72%. The highest PPVs and specificities existed when the clinical metrics were present in combination, although sensitivities decreased expectedly. Only 48% of failures were diagnosed on the basis all 3 hydrocephalus metrics, while only 37% of successes were negative for all 3 metrics. In the remaining 57% of patients, a diagnosis of success or failure was made in the presence of discordant data.

CONCLUSIONS

Successful ETV/CPC for infantile hydrocephalus was evaluated in relation to fontanel status, head growth, and change in ventricular size. In most patients, a designation of failure or success was made in the setting of discordant data.