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Joseph H. Piatt Jr.

OBJECT

In the US, race and economic status have pervasive associations with mechanisms of injury, severity of injury, management, and outcomes of trauma. The goal of the current study was to examine these relationships on a large scale in the setting of pediatric spinal injury.

METHODS

Admissions for spinal fracture without or with spinal cord injury (SCI), spinal dislocation, and SCI without radiographic abnormality were identified in the Kids’ Inpatient Database (KID) and the National Trauma Data Bank (NTDB) registry for 2009. Patients ranged in age from birth up to 21 years. Data from the KID were used to estimate nationwide annual incidences. Data from the NTDB were used to describe patterns of injury in relation to age, race, and payor, with corroboration from the KID. Multiple logistic regression was used to model rates of mortality and spinal fusion.

RESULTS

In 2009, the estimated incidence of hospital admission for spinal injury in the US was 170 per 1 million in the population under 21 years of age. The incidence of SCI was 24 per 1 million. Incidences varied regionally. Adolescents predominated. Patterns of injury varied by age, race, and payor. Black patients were more severely injured than patients of other races as measured by Injury Severity Scale scores. Among black patients with spinal injury in the NTDB, 23.9% suffered firearm injuries; only 1% of white patients suffered firearm injuries. The overall mortality rate in the NTDB was 3.9%. In a multivariate analysis that included a large panel of clinical and nonclinical factors, black race retained significance as a predictor of mortality (p = 0.006; adjusted OR 1.571 [1.141–2.163]). Rates of spinal fusion were associated with race and payor in the NTDB data and with payor in the KID: patients with better insurance underwent spinal fusion at higher rates.

CONCLUSIONS

The epidemiology of pediatric spinal injury in the US cannot be understood apart from considerations of race and economic status.

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Samir Sarda, Mike K. Moore, and Joshua J. Chern

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Joseph H. Piatt Jr.

Object

Cerebrospinal fluid shunts are the mainstay of the treatment of hydrocephalus. In past studies, outcomes of shunt surgery have been analyzed based on follow-up of 1 year or longer. The goal of the current study is to characterize 30-day shunt outcomes, to identify clinical risk factors for shunt infection and failure, and to develop statistical models that might be used for risk stratification.

Methods

Data for 2012 were obtained from the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program-Pediatrics (NSQIP-P) of the American College of Surgeons. Files with index surgical procedures for insertion or revision of a CSF shunt composed the study set. Returns to the operating room within 30 days for shunt infection and for shunt failure without infection were the study end points. Associations with a large number of potential clinical risk factors were analyzed on a univariate basis. Logistic regression was used for multivariate analysis.

Results

There were 1790 index surgical procedures analyzed. The overall rates of shunt infection and shunt failure without infection were 2.0% and 11.5%, respectively. Male sex, steroid use in the preceding 30 days, and nutritional support at the time of surgery were risk factors for shunt infection. Cardiac disease was a risk factor for shunt failure without infection, and initial shunt insertion, admission during the second quarter, and neuromuscular disease appeared to be protective. There was a weak association of increasing age with shunt failure without infection. Models based on these factors accounted for no more than 6% of observed variance. Construction of stable statistical models with internal validity for risk adjustment proved impossible.

Conclusions

The precision of the NSQIP-P dataset has allowed identification of risk factors for shunt infection and for shunt failure without infection that have not been documented previously. Thirty-day shunt outcomes may be useful quality metrics, possibly even without risk adjustment. Whether important variation in 30-day outcomes exists among institutions or among neurosurgeons is yet unknown.

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Spencer E. Barton, Jeffrey W. Campbell, and Joseph H. Piatt Jr.

Object

The authors define and examine the properties of 2 new, practice-based quality measures for the management of hydrocephalus.

Methods

The Surgical Activity Rate (SAR) is defined as the number of definitive operations for the treatment of hydrocephalus performed in a neurosurgical practice over the course of a year, divided by the number of patients with hydrocephalus seen in follow-up during that year. The Revision Quotient (RQ) is defined as the number of definitive revision operations performed in a neurosurgical practice in the course of a year, divided by the number of definitive initial operations during that year for patients with newly diagnosed hydrocephalus. Using published actuarial shunt survival data, the authors conducted Monte Carlo simulations of a pediatric neurosurgical practice to illustrate the properties and interpretations of the SAR and RQ. They used data from the Kids' Inpatient Database (KID) for 2009 to calculate RQs for hospitals accounting for more than 10 admissions coded for initial CSF shunt insertions.

Results

During the initial growth phase of a simulated neurosurgical practice, the SAR approached its steady-state value much earlier than the RQ. Both measures were sensitive to doubling or halving of monthly failure rates. In the 2009 KID, 117 hospitals reported more than 10 initial shunt insertions. The weighted mean (± standard deviation) RQ for these hospitals was 1.79 ± 0.69. Among hospitals performing 50 or more initial shunt insertions, the RQ ranged between 0.71 and 3.65.

Conclusions

The SAR and RQ have attractive qualitative features as practice-based quality measures. The RQ, at least, exhibits clinically meaningful interhospital variation as applied to CSF shunt surgery. The SAR and RQ merit prospective field-testing as measures of quality in the management of childhood hydrocephalus.

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Ann-Christine Duhaime

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Joseph H. Piatt Jr. and Daniel A. Neff

Object

The goal in this paper was to study hospital care for childhood traumatic brain injury (TBI) in a nationwide population base.

Methods

Data were acquired from the Kids' Inpatient Database (KID) for the years 1997, 2000, 2003, 2006, and 2009. Admission for TBI was defined by any ICD-9-CM diagnostic code for TBI. Admission for severe TBI was defined by a principal diagnostic code for TBI and a procedural code for mechanical ventilation; admissions ending in discharge home alive in less than 4 days were excluded.

Results

Estimated raw and population-based rates of admission for all TBI, for severe TBI, for death from severe TBI, and for major and minor neurosurgical procedures fell steadily during the study period. Median hospital charges for severe TBI rose steadily, even after adjustment for inflation, but estimated nationwide hospital charges were stable. Among 14,932 actual admissions for severe TBI captured in the KID, case mortality was stable through the study period, at 23.9%.

In a multivariate analysis, commercial insurance (OR 0.86, CI 0.77–0.95; p = 0.004) and white race (OR 0.78, CI 0.70–0.87; p < 0.0005) were associated with lower mortality rates, but there was no association between these factors and commitment of resources, as measured by hospital charges or rates of major procedures. Increasing median income of home ZIP code was associated with higher hospital charges and higher rates of major and minor procedures. Only 46.8% of admissions for severe TBI were coded for a neurosurgical procedure of any kind. Fewer admissions were coded for minor neurosurgical procedures than anticipated, and the state-by-state variance in rates of minor procedures was twice as great as for major procedures. Possible explanations for the “missing ICP monitors” are discussed.

Conclusions

Childhood brain trauma is a shrinking sector of neurosurgical hospital practice. Racial and economic disparities in mortality rates were confirmed in this study, but they were not explained by available metrics of resource commitment. Vigilance is required to continue to supply neurosurgical expertise to the multidisciplinary care process.

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Joseph H. Piatt Jr. and Leslie E. Grissom

Object

The CT modality plays a central role in the diagnosis of cervical spine fractures. In childhood, radiolucent synchondroses between ossification centers can resemble fractures, and they can be the sites of fractures as well. Recognition of cervical spine fractures in children requires familiarity with normal developmental anatomy and common variants as they appear on CT scans.

Methods

A convenience sample of 932 CT scans of the cervical spine accessible on the picture archiving and communications system (known as PACS) at a single children's hospital was examined. Scans were excluded from further analysis if they did not include the atlantoaxial region or were otherwise technically unsatisfactory; if the patient carried the diagnosis of a skeletal dysplasia; or if there were developmental lesions noted at other levels of the spine. No more than 1 scan per patient was analyzed. Synchondroses were graded as radiolucent, not totally radiolucent but still visible, or no longer visible. Their locations and symmetries were noted. The presence or absence of the tubercles of the transverse ligament was noted as well.

Results

After exclusions, 841 studies of the atlas and 835 studies of the axis were analyzed. The 3 common ossification centers of the atlas arose in the paired neural arches and the anterior arch, but in as many as 20% of cases the anterior arch developed from paired symmetrical ossification centers. The 5 common ossification centers of the axis arose in the paired neural arches, in the basal center, in the dentate center (from which most of the dentate process develops), and in the very apex of the dentate process. The appearance of each synchondrosis was noted at sequential ages. The tubercles for the transverse ligament generally did not appear until the ossification of the synchondroses of the atlas was far advanced. Anomalies of the atlas included anterior and posterior spina bifida, absence of sectors of the posterior arch, and anomalous ossification centers and synchondroses. Anomalies of the axis were much less common. What appeared possibly to be chronic, incompletely healed fractures of the atlas were discovered on review for this analysis in 6 cases. No fractures of the axis were discovered.

Conclusions

There is substantial variation in the time course and pattern of development of the atlas, and anomalies are common. Some fractures of the atlas may escape recognition without manifest sequelae. Variation in the time course of the development of the axis is notable as well, but anomalies seem much less common.

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Joseph H. Piatt Jr.

Object

Intracranial abscess is a very infrequent complication of sinusitis among children. Case series, mostly small and focusing on surgical treatment, have appeared in the literature, but there has been no study on the epidemiology of this condition, nor has there been any large-scale study on the intensity of therapy or outcomes.

Methods

Data were drawn from the Kids' Inpatient Databases for 1997, 2000, 2003, and 2006 and the National Inpatient Sample for 2001. Cases were defined by the conjunction between the diagnostic codes for intracranial abscess and those for acute or chronic sinusitis or mastoiditis.

Results

Eight hundred forty-seven hospital admissions were captured. Over the 10 years of the study, admission rates ranged between 2.74 and 4.38 per million children per year. Boys were affected much more commonly than girls. Black children were affected out of proportion to their presence in the population. The overall incidence seemed to peak in early adolescence. Sinogenic cases had a marked seasonal pattern peaking in winter, but no seasonal variation was seen for otogenic cases. Asthma comorbidity was more prevalent among sinogenic cases. The mortality rate was 2%, and death occurred only among sinogenic cases. Moreover, sinogenic cases tended to require more intensive therapy, as measured by the number of procedures, and there was a trend toward less favorable discharge dispositions. Older patients and black patients were less likely to be discharged directly to home. At least a quarter of the cases were managed without neurosurgical intervention. White patients were treated without neurosurgery more often than others.

Conclusions

Analysis of administrative data sets has yielded a descriptive picture of intracranial abscess complicating sinusitis among children, but the very low incidence of this condition impedes prospective clinical research directed at practical management issues.

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Letter to the Editor

Cervical spine clearance

Joseph H. Piatt Jr.