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Cost comparison of surgical management of nonsagittal synostosis: traditional open versus endoscope-assisted techniques

Ema Zubovic, Jodi B. Lapidus, Gary B. Skolnick, Sybill D. Naidoo, Matthew D. Smyth, and Kamlesh B. Patel

OBJECTIVE

Management of craniosynostosis at an early age is important for mitigating the risk of abnormal cranial development, but treatment can result in significant expenses. Previous research has shown that endoscope-assisted craniectomy (EAC) is less costly than open cranial vault remodeling (CVR) for patients with sagittal synostosis. The aim of this study was to strengthen the existing body of healthcare cost research by elucidating the charges associated with open and endoscopic treatment for patients with nonsagittal synostosis.

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective analysis of data obtained in 41 patients who underwent open CVR and 38 who underwent EAC with postoperative helmet therapy for nonsagittal, single-suture craniosynostosis (metopic, coronal, and lambdoid) between 2008 and 2018. All patients were < 1 year of age at the time of surgery and had a minimum 1 year of follow-up. Inpatient charges, physician fees, helmet charges, and outpatient clinic visits in the 1st year were analyzed.

RESULTS

The mean ages of the children treated with EAC and open CVR were 3.5 months and 8.7 months, respectively. Patients undergoing EAC with postoperative helmet therapy required more outpatient clinic visits in the 1st year than patients undergoing CVR (4 vs 2; p < 0.001). Overall, 13% of patients in the EAC group required 1 helmet, 30% required 2 helmets, 40% required 3 helmets, and 13% required 4 or more helmets; the mean total helmeting charges were $10,072. The total charges of treatment, including inpatient charges, physician fees, outpatient clinic visit costs, and helmet charges, were significantly lower for the EAC group than they were for the open CVR group ($50,840 vs $95,588; p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

Despite the additional charges for postoperative helmet therapy and the more frequent outpatient visits, EAC is significantly less expensive than open CVR for patients with metopic, coronal, and lambdoid craniosynostosis. In conjunction with the existing literature on clinical outcomes and perioperative resource utilization, these data support EAC as a cost-minimizing treatment for eligible patients with nonsagittal synostosis.

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Corpus callosotomy performed with laser interstitial thermal therapy

Jarod L. Roland, Syed Hassan A. Akbari, Afshin Salehi, and Matthew D. Smyth

OBJECTIVE

Corpus callosotomy is a palliative procedure that is effective at reducing seizure burden in patients with medically refractory epilepsy. The procedure is traditionally performed via open craniotomy with interhemispheric microdissection to divide the corpus callosum. Concerns for morbidity associated with craniotomy can be a deterrent to patients, families, and referring physicians for surgical treatment of epilepsy. Laser interstitial thermal therapy (LITT) is a less invasive procedure that has been widely adopted in neurosurgery for the treatment of tumors. In this study, the authors investigated LITT as a less invasive approach for corpus callosotomy.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed all patients treated for medically refractory epilepsy by corpus callosotomy, either partial or completion, with LITT. Chart records were analyzed to summarize procedural metrics, length of stay, adverse events, seizure outcomes, and time to follow-up. In select cases, resting-state functional MRI was performed to qualitatively support effective functional disconnection of the cerebral hemispheres.

RESULTS

Ten patients underwent 11 LITT procedures. Five patients received an anterior two-thirds LITT callosotomy as their first procedure. One patient returned after LITT partial callosotomy for completion of callosotomy by LITT. The median hospital stay was 2 days (IQR 1.5–3 days), and the mean follow-up time was 1.0 year (range 1 month to 2.86 years). Functional outcomes are similar to those of open callosotomy, with the greatest effect in patients with a significant component of drop attacks in their seizure semiology. One patient achieved an Engel class II outcome after anterior two-thirds callosotomy resulting in only rare seizures at the 18-month follow-up. Four others were in Engel class III and 5 were Engel class IV. Hemorrhage occurred in 1 patient at the time of removal of the laser fiber, which was placed through the bone flap of a prior open partial callosotomy.

CONCLUSIONS

LITT appears to be a safe and effective means for performing corpus callosotomy. Additional data are needed to confirm equipoise between open craniotomy and LITT for corpus callosotomy.

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Radiological and clinical predictors of scoliosis in patients with Chiari malformation type I and spinal cord syrinx from the Park-Reeves Syringomyelia Research Consortium

Jennifer M. Strahle, Rukayat Taiwo, Christine Averill, James Torner, Chevis N. Shannon, Christopher M. Bonfield, Gerald F. Tuite, Tammy Bethel-Anderson, Jerrel Rutlin, Douglas L. Brockmeyer, John C. Wellons III, Jeffrey R. Leonard, Francesco T. Mangano, James M. Johnston, Manish N. Shah, Bermans J. Iskandar, Elizabeth C. Tyler-Kabara, David J. Daniels, Eric M. Jackson, Gerald A. Grant, Daniel E. Couture, P. David Adelson, Tord D. Alden, Philipp R. Aldana, Richard C. E. Anderson, Nathan R. Selden, Lissa C. Baird, Karin Bierbrauer, Joshua J. Chern, William E. Whitehead, Richard G. Ellenbogen, Herbert E. Fuchs, Daniel J. Guillaume, Todd C. Hankinson, Mark R. Iantosca, W. Jerry Oakes, Robert F. Keating, Nickalus R. Khan, Michael S. Muhlbauer, J. Gordon McComb, Arnold H. Menezes, John Ragheb, Jodi L. Smith, Cormac O. Maher, Stephanie Greene, Michael Kelly, Brent R. O’Neill, Mark D. Krieger, Mandeep Tamber, Susan R. Durham, Greg Olavarria, Scellig S. D. Stone, Bruce A. Kaufman, Gregory G. Heuer, David F. Bauer, Gregory Albert, Jeffrey P. Greenfield, Scott D. Wait, Mark D. Van Poppel, Ramin Eskandari, Timothy Mapstone, Joshua S. Shimony, Ralph G. Dacey Jr., Matthew D. Smyth, Tae Sung Park, and David D. Limbrick Jr.

OBJECTIVE

Scoliosis is frequently a presenting sign of Chiari malformation type I (CM-I) with syrinx. The authors’ goal was to define scoliosis in this population and describe how radiological characteristics of CM-I and syrinx relate to the presence and severity of scoliosis.

METHODS

A large multicenter retrospective and prospective registry of pediatric patients with CM-I (tonsils ≥ 5 mm below the foramen magnum) and syrinx (≥ 3 mm in axial width) was reviewed for clinical and radiological characteristics of CM-I, syrinx, and scoliosis (coronal curve ≥ 10°).

RESULTS

Based on available imaging of patients with CM-I and syrinx, 260 of 825 patients (31%) had a clear diagnosis of scoliosis based on radiographs or coronal MRI. Forty-nine patients (5.9%) did not have scoliosis, and in 516 (63%) patients, a clear determination of the presence or absence of scoliosis could not be made. Comparison of patients with and those without a definite scoliosis diagnosis indicated that scoliosis was associated with wider syrinxes (8.7 vs 6.3 mm, OR 1.25, p < 0.001), longer syrinxes (10.3 vs 6.2 levels, OR 1.18, p < 0.001), syrinxes with their rostral extent located in the cervical spine (94% vs 80%, OR 3.91, p = 0.001), and holocord syrinxes (50% vs 16%, OR 5.61, p < 0.001). Multivariable regression analysis revealed syrinx length and the presence of holocord syrinx to be independent predictors of scoliosis in this patient cohort. Scoliosis was not associated with sex, age at CM-I diagnosis, tonsil position, pB–C2 distance (measured perpendicular distance from the ventral dura to a line drawn from the basion to the posterior-inferior aspect of C2), clivoaxial angle, or frontal-occipital horn ratio. Average curve magnitude was 29.9°, and 37.7% of patients had a left thoracic curve. Older age at CM-I or syrinx diagnosis (p < 0.0001) was associated with greater curve magnitude whereas there was no association between syrinx dimensions and curve magnitude.

CONCLUSIONS

Syrinx characteristics, but not tonsil position, were related to the presence of scoliosis in patients with CM-I, and there was an independent association of syrinx length and holocord syrinx with scoliosis. Further study is needed to evaluate the nature of the relationship between syrinx and scoliosis in patients with CM-I.

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Feasibility of fast brain diffusion MRI to quantify white matter injury in pediatric hydrocephalus

Albert M. Isaacs, Joshua S. Shimony, Diego M. Morales, Leandro Castaneyra-Ruiz, Alexis Hartman, Madison Cook, Christopher D. Smyser, Jennifer Strahle, Matthew D. Smyth, Yan Yan, James P. McAllister II, Robert C. McKinstry, and David D. Limbrick Jr.

OBJECTIVE

Traditionally, diffusion MRI (dMRI) has been performed in parallel with high-resolution conventional MRI, which requires long scan times and may require sedation or general anesthesia in infants and young children. Conversely, fast brain MRI permits image acquisition without the need for sedation, although its short pulse sequences, susceptibility to motion artifact, and contrast resolution have limited its use to assessing ventricular size or major structural variations. Here, the authors demonstrate the feasibility of leveraging a 3-direction fast brain MRI protocol to obtain reliable dMRI measures.

METHODS

Fast brain MRI with 3-direction dMRI was performed in infants and children before and after hydrocephalus treatment. Regions of interest in the posterior limbs of the internal capsules (PLICs) and the genu of the corpus callosum (gCC) were drawn on diffusion-weighted images, and mean diffusivity (MD) data were extracted. Ventricular size was determined by the frontal occipital horn ratio (FOHR). Differences between and within groups pre- and posttreatment, and FOHR-MD correlations were assessed.

RESULTS

Of 40 patients who met inclusion criteria (median age 27.5 months), 15 (37.5%), 17 (42.5%), and 8 (20.0%) had posthemorrhagic hydrocephalus (PHH), congenital hydrocephalus (CH), or no intracranial abnormality (controls), respectively. A hydrocephalus group included both PHH and CH patients. Prior to treatment, the FOHR (p < 0.001) and PLIC MD (p = 0.027) were greater in the hydrocephalus group than in the controls. While the mean gCC MD in the hydrocephalus group (1.10 × 10−3 mm2/sec) was higher than that of the control group (0.98), the difference was not significant (p = 0.135). Following a median follow-up duration of 14 months, decreases in FOHR, PLIC MD, and gCC MD were observed in the hydrocephalus group and were similar to those in the control group (p = 0.107, p = 0.702, and p = 0.169, respectively). There were no correlations identified between FOHR and MDs at either time point.

CONCLUSIONS

The utility of fast brain MRI can be extended beyond anatomical assessments to obtain dMRI measures. A reduction in PLIC and gCC MD to levels similar to those of controls was observed within 14 months following shunt surgery for hydrocephalus in PHH and CH infants. Further studies are required to assess the role of fast brain dMRI for assessing clinical outcomes in pediatric hydrocephalus patients.

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Recent advances in the neurosurgical treatment of pediatric epilepsy

JNSPG 75th Anniversary Invited Review Article

Jarod L. Roland and Matthew D. Smyth

The field of epilepsy surgery has seen tremendous growth in recent years. Innovative new devices have driven much of this growth, but some has been driven by revisions of existing products. Devices have also helped to rejuvenate existing procedures, as in the case of robotic assistance for electrode placement for stereo-electroencephalography, and these devices have brought significant attention along with their introduction. Other devices, such as responsive neurostimulators or laser interstitial thermal therapy systems, have introduced novel treatment modalities and broadened the surgical indications. Collectively, these advances are rapidly changing much of the landscape in the world of pediatric neurosurgery for medically refractory epilepsy. The foundations for indications for neurosurgical intervention are well supported in strong research data, which has also been expanded in recent years. In this article, the authors review advances in the neurosurgical treatment of pediatric epilepsy, beginning with trials that have repeatedly demonstrated the value of neurosurgical procedures for medically refractory epilepsy and following with several recent advances that are largely focused on less-invasive intervention.

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Editorial. Mapping at rest: translating resting-state functional MRI to clinical practice

Jarod L. Roland and Matthew D. Smyth

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Regression of cephalic index following endoscopic repair of sagittal synostosis

Nicholas A. Pickersgill, Gary B. Skolnick, Sybill D. Naidoo, Matthew D. Smyth, and Kamlesh B. Patel

OBJECTIVE

Metrics used to quantify preoperative severity and postoperative outcomes for patients with sagittal synostosis include cephalic index (CI), the well-known standard, and the recently described adjusted cephalic index (aCI), which accounts for altered euryon location. This study tracks the time course of these measures following endoscopic repair with orthotic helmet therapy. The authors hypothesize that CI and aCI show significant regression following endoscope-assisted repair.

METHODS

CT scans or 3D photographs of patients with nonsyndromic sagittal synostosis treated before 6 months of age by endoscope-assisted strip craniectomy and postoperative helmet therapy (n = 41) were reviewed retrospectively at three time points (preoperatively, 0–2 months after helmeting, and > 24 months postoperatively). The CI and aCI were measured at each time point.

RESULTS

Mean CI and aCI increased from 71.8 to 78.2 and 62.7 to 72.4, respectively, during helmet treatment (p < 0.001). At final follow-up, mean CI and aCI had regressed significantly from 78.2 to 76.5 and 72.4 to 69.7, respectively (p < 0.001). The CI regressed in 33 of 41 cases (80%) and aCI in 39 of 41 cases (95%). The authors observed a mean loss of 31% of improvement in aCI achieved through treatment. A strong, positive correlation existed between CI and aCI (R = 0.88).

CONCLUSIONS

Regression following endoscope-assisted strip craniectomy with postoperative helmet therapy commonly occurs in patients with sagittal synostosis. Future studies are required to determine whether duration of helmet therapy or modifications in helmet design affect regression.

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Variation in the management of isolated craniosynostosis: a survey of the Synostosis Research Group

John R. W. Kestle, Amy Lee, Richard C. E. Anderson, Barbu Gociman, Kamlesh B. Patel, Matthew D. Smyth, Craig Birgfeld, Ian F. Pollack, Jesse A. Goldstein, Mandeep Tamber, Thomas Imahiyerobo, Faizi A. Siddiqi, and for the Synostosis Research Group

OBJECTIVE

The authors created a collaborative network, the Synostosis Research Group (SynRG), to facilitate multicenter clinical research on craniosynostosis. To identify common and differing practice patterns within the network, they assessed the SynRG surgeons’ management preferences for sagittal synostosis. These results will be incorporated into planning cooperative studies.

METHODS

The SynRG consists of 12 surgeons at 5 clinical sites. An email survey was distributed to SynRG surgeons in late 2016, and responses were collected through early 2017. Responses were collated and analyzed descriptively.

RESULTS

All of the surgeons—7 plastic/craniofacial surgeons and 5 neurosurgeons—completed the survey. They varied in both experience (1–24 years) and sagittal synostosis case volume in the preceding year (5–45 cases). Three sites routinely perform preoperative CT scans. The preferred surgical technique for children younger than 3 months is strip craniectomy (10/12 surgeons), whereas children older than 6 months are all treated with open cranial vault surgery. Pre-incision cefazolin, preoperative complete blood count panels, and an arterial line were used by most surgeons, but tranexamic acid was used routinely at 3 sites and never at the other 2 sites. Among surgeons performing endoscopic strip craniectomy surgery (SCS), most create a 5-cm-wide craniectomy, whereas 2 surgeons create a 2-cm strip. Four surgeons routinely send endoscopic SCS patients to the intensive care unit after surgery. Two of the 5 sites routinely obtain a CT scan within the 1st year after surgery.

CONCLUSIONS

The SynRG surgeons vary substantially in the use of imaging, the choice of surgical procedure and technique, and follow-up. A collaborative network will provide the opportunity to study different practice patterns, reduce variation, and contribute multicenter data on the management of children with craniosynostosis.

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Assessing calvarial vault constriction associated with helmet therapy in deformational plagiocephaly

Erin C. Peterson, Kamlesh B. Patel, Gary B. Skolnick, Kristin D. Pfeifauf, Katelyn N. Davidson, Matthew D. Smyth, and Sybill D. Naidoo

OBJECTIVE

Deformational plagiocephaly and/or brachycephaly (DPB) is a cranial flattening frequently treated in pediatric craniofacial centers. The standard of care for DPB involves patient positioning or helmet therapy. Orthotic therapy successfully reduces cranial asymmetry, but there is concern over whether the orthotics have the potential to restrict cranial growth. Previous research addressing helmet safety was limited by lack of volume measurements and serial data. The purpose of this study was to directly compare head growth data in patients with DPB between those who underwent helmet therapy and those who received repositioning therapy.

METHODS

This retrospective cohort study analyzed pre- and posttherapy 3D photographs of 57 patients with DPB who had helmet therapy and a control group of 57 patients with DPB who underwent repositioning therapy. The authors determined the change in cranial vault volume and cranial circumference between each patient’s photographs using 3D photogrammetry. They also computed a cubic volume calculated by multiplying anterior-posterior diameter, biparietal diameter, and height. Linear regressions were used to quantify effects of age and therapy type on these quantities.

RESULTS

A comparison of the following variables between the two groups yielded nonsignificant results: age at the beginning (p = 0.861) and end (p = 0.539) of therapy, therapy duration (p = 0.161), and the ratio of males to females (p = 0.689). There was no significant difference between patients who underwent helmeting versus positioning therapy with respect to change in either volume calculation or head circumference z-score (p ≥ 0.545). Pretherapy photograph age was a significant predictor of cranial growth (p ≤ 0.001), but therapy type was not predictive of the change in the study measurements (p ≤ 0.210).

CONCLUSIONS

The authors found no evidence that helmet therapy was associated with cranial constriction in the study population of patients with DPB. These results strengthen previous research supporting helmet safety and should allow health care providers and families to choose the appropriate therapy without concern for potential negative effects on cranial growth.

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Editorial. Endoscopic synostosis surgery: case closed. Or open? Or in between?

Matthew D. Smyth