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R. Shane Tubbs, John C. Wellons III, Jeffrey P. Blount, and W. Jerry Oakes

✓ The authors describe the use of autogenetic posterior atlantooccipital (PAO) membrane for duraplasty following after posterior cranial fossa surgery. The PAO membrane is routinely exposed for procedures of the posterior cranial fossa and merely needs to be dissected free of the underlying dura mater. Recently this membrane was obtained in several pediatric patients following procedures of the posterior cranial fossa such as duraplasty in case of Chiari I malformation. No postoperative complications were found at 6-month follow-up examination. The advantages of this intervention include less manipulation of muscle and fascia than that involved in other procedures and, therefore, seemingly less postoperative pain and the negation of issues inherent with foreign-body graft sources. The authors believe this structure to be of use as a dural substitute in small dural openings of the posterior cranial fossa.

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R. Shane Tubbs, John C. Wellons III, Jason Banks, Jeffrey P. Blount, and W. Jerry Oakes

Object. The medial tubercles of the atlas serve as the attachments of the transverse ligament and provide an important anchoring site for which no discussion of their fine anatomy is published in the literature. In this study the authors examine this anatomy along with its osseous relationships.

Methods. One hundred dry cadaveric atlantal tubercles were assessed for size and relationship to nearby anatomical osseous structures. In addition, eight cadaveric specimens were evaluated for their anatomy in this area.

All specimens exhibited atlantal tubercles for the attachment of the transverse portion of the cruciate ligament of the atlas. Right-sided tubercles tended to be of a larger caliber. Overall, right-sided vertical distances between these tubercles and the superior articular facets and inferior articular facets were greater, although distances from each tubercle to the lateral margin of the dental facets anteriorly were found to be constant, as were intertubercular distances. The mean angle formed between both tubercles and the dental facet was 75°.

Conclusions. The data derived in this study should be useful to the clinician for whom the craniocervical junction is a vital anatomical area.

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R. Shane Tubbs, John C. Wellons III, Jeffrey P. Blount, Paul A. Grabb, and W. Jerry Oakes

Object. The quantitative analysis of odontoid process angulation has had scant attention in the Chiari I malformation population. In this study the authors sought to elucidate the correlation between posterior angulation of the odontoid process and patients with Chiari I malformation.

Methods. Magnetic resonance images of the craniocervical junction obtained in 100 children with Chiari I malformation and in 50 children with normal intracranial anatomy (controls) were analyzed. Specific attention was focused on measuring the degree of angulation of the odontoid process and assigning a score to the various degrees. Postoperative outcome following posterior cranial fossa decompression was then correlated to grades of angulation. Other measurements included midsagittal lengths of the foramen magnum and basiocciput, the authors' institutions' previously documented pB—C2 line (a line drawn perpendicular to one drawn between the basion and the posterior aspect of the C-2 body), level of the obex from a midpoint of the McRae line, and the extent of tonsillar herniation.

Higher grades of odontoid angulation (retroflexion) were found to be more frequently associated with syringomyelia and particularly holocord syringes. Higher grades of angulation were more common in female patients and were often found to have obices that were caudally displaced greater than three standard deviations below normal.

Conclusions. These results not only confirm prior reports of an increased incidence of a retroflexed odontoid process in Chiari I malformation but quantitatively define grades of inclination. Grades of angulation were not found to correlate with postoperative outcome. It is the authors' hopes that these data add to our current limited understanding of the mechanisms involved in hindbrain herniation.

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R. Shane Tubbs, Matthew D. Smyth, John C. Wellons III, Jeffrey P. Blount, Paul A. Grabb, and W. Jerry Oakes

Object. To the best of the authors' knowledge, no quantitative analysis of the atlantoaxial interlaminar distance in flexion (ILD) in children exists in the medical literature. In this study they sought to determine the age-matched relationship between the posterior elements of the atlas and axis in children in cervical spine flexion, to be used as an adjunct to the atlantodental interval in common clinical use.

Methods. Lateral radiographs of the cervical spine in full flexion were analyzed in 74 children. The atlantoaxial ILD was defined as the distance between a midpoint of the anterior cortices of the atlantal and axial posterior arches.

The mean ILD for the entire group was 19 mm (range 8–30 mm). No significant difference was seen between male and female patients (p = 0.084). When stratified by age, the mean ILD was 12.3 ± 3 mm (15 cases) in children age 3 years or younger and 20.5 ± 4.7 mm (59 cases) in children age older than 3 years. Further stratification of the groups yielded a mean ILD of 10.4 ± 1.4 [eight cases]) in children age 1 to 2 years, and 14.4 ± 4.7 mm (seven cases) in children age 3 years. In children older than 3 years of age the mean ILD was consistently approximately 20 ± 5 mm regardless of age.

Conclusions. Rapid, safe, and accurate diagnosis of the cervical spine is essential in critical care. Knowledge of the distance between the posterior elements of the atlas and axis in flexion should enhance the clinicians' (those who clear cervical spines) ability to diagnose accurately atlantoaxial instability on lateral radiographs obtained in flexion.

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R. Shane Tubbs, John C. Wellons III, Jeffrey P. Blount, W. Jerry Oakes, and Paul A. Grabb

✓ The authors report on the case of a patient evaluated for Valsalva maneuver—induced headache, dizziness, and ataxia. Neuroimaging revealed a Chiari I malformation without syringomyelia. A history of idiopathic hypertension was noted. After posterior fossa decompression, pathologically elevated blood pressure was absent, and at 24-month follow-up evaluation the patient remained normotensive. Although seemingly rare, this case illustrates that some patients with tonsillar ectopia may exhibit elevated blood pressure. Clinicians should consider hindbrain herniation a rare cause in idiopathic hypertension.

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Matthew D. Smyth, Jason T. Banks, R. Shane Tubbs, John C. Wellons III, and W. Jerry Oakes

Object. The authors performed a study to evaluate the efficacy of a regimen of scheduled minor analgesic medications in managing postoperative pain in children undergoing intracranial procedures.

Methods. Postoperative pain scores were analyzed in two groups of children who underwent decompressive surgery for Chiari malformation: Group A underwent a scheduled regimen of minor oral analgesic medications (standing doses of acetaminophen [10 mg/kg] and ibuprofen [10 mg/kg] alternating every 2 hours) and Group B received analgesic medication when requested.

Fifty children underwent a standard occipital craniectomy (25 in each group). The pain scores were significantly lower in Group A during most of the postoperative period. Length of stay (LOS) was shorter (2.2 compared with 2.8 days), and narcotic and antiemetic requirements were also lower in Group A patients than in Group B patients. Patients with spinal cord syringes exhibited a similar postoperative status to those without, and similar improvements in pain scores with scheduled minor analgesic medications were also evident.

Conclusions. A regimen of minor analgesic therapy, given in alternating doses every 2 hours immediately after craniotomy and throughout hospitalization, significantly reduced postoperative pain scores and LOS in children in whom suboccipital craniotomy was performed. Narcotic and antiemetic requirements were also decreased in association with this regimen. Application of this postoperative analgesia protocol may benefit children and adults in whom various similar neurosurgical procedures are required.

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R. Shane Tubbs, John C. Wellons III, Bermans J. Iskandar, and W. Jerry Oakes

Object. Historically, cutaneous stigmata representative of occult spinal dysraphism (OSD) have included lumbar hemangiomas. Frequently, this skin change is found in conjunction with other cutaneous alterations such as dermal sinus tracts and subcutaneous lipomas. Debate has recently surrounded the question of whether these skin changes in isolation might indicate underlying spinal disease. The authors reviewed their experience in their most recent 120 cases in which OSD was diagnosed.

Methods. The authors retrospectively reviewed records obtained in 120 patients with OSD. They found that many of the patients reviewed harbored only a flat capillary hemangioma as an indicator of OSD. In 21 patients (17.5%) with only midline lumbosacral flat capillary hemangiomas, underlying OSD was present. No single variety of OSD had a higher incidence of association with this single cutaneous stigma.

Conclusions. Based on their experience, the authors recommend magnetic resonance (MR) imaging evaluation in cases involving this skin lesion in isolation to discern the potential for surgically significant spinal cord anomalies. Prospective studies are now needed to examine MR images obtained in all children with this lesion in the midline lumbosacral spine and assess for OSD.

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Joseph H. Piatt Jr.

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R. Shane Tubbs, Matthew D. Smyth, John C. Wellons III, and W. Jerry Oakes

Object. The literature contains scant data regarding variations in anatomy at the level of the foramen of Magendie in patients with Chiari I malformation and syringomyelia.

Methods. Based on their operative experience and hospital data, the authors detailed the incidence of arachnoid veils found in juxtaposition to the foramen of Magendie in patients with hindbrain herniation. Additionally, radiological studies were retrospectively reviewed in cases in which such an anomaly was noted intraoperatively.

Of 140 patients with Chiari I malformation who underwent decompressive surgery, an associated syrinx was demonstrated in 80 (57%). The foramen of Magendie was obstructed by an arachnoid veil in 10 (12.5%) of these patients; once the lesion was punctured, the cerebrospinal fluid drained freely from this median aperture. On retrospective review of imaging studies, none of these anomalous structures was evident. In all patients with an arachnoid veil and syringomyelia resolution of syringomyelia was revealed on postoperative imaging.

Conclusions. In the absence of a clear pathophysiology of syrinx production, the authors would recommend that patients with syringomyelia and Chiari I malformation undergo duraplasty so that, if present, these veils can be fenestrated.

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John C. Wellons III, Alyssa T. Reddy, R. Shane Tubbs, Hussein Abdullatif, W. Jerry Oakes, Jeffrey P. Blount, and Paul A. Grabb

Object. Intracranial germinomas commonly occur in the pineal region, the floor of the third ventricle (hypothalamus), or both, and they are often associated with diabetes insipidus (DI). The authors conducted a study to correlate preoperative DI with the endoscopic and magnetic resonance (MR) imaging evidence of tumor on the third ventricle floor.

Methods. The authors reviewed hospital records, office charts, and MR imaging studies obtained in patients in whom a biopsy sampling procedure was performed with or without endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) at Children's Hospital, Birmingham, Alabama between May 1998 and July 2002. Ten patients with the pathological diagnosis of pure germinoma were identified. Preoperative MR imaging findings and presenting symptoms were correlated with intraoperative neuroendoscopic findings.

Seven patients presented with symptomatic hydrocephalus and underwent concomitant ETV. Six patients presented with DI and MR imaging evidence of involvement of the third ventricle floor. Two patients presented with DI and no initial MR imaging evidence of neoplastic involvement of the third ventricle floor; in both there was endoscopic evidence of neoplastic involvement of the floor of the third ventricle. In two children without DI, neither MR imaging nor endoscopic evidence of involvement of the third ventricle floor was observed.

Conclusions. In the authors' experience with intracranial germinoma, endoscopic tumor biopsy sampling, and ETV provide an effective, safe, and minimally invasive means of obtaining diagnostic tissue and treating any concomitant hydrocephalus. The authors found that preoperative DI is an absolute predictor of neoplastic involvement of the hypothalamus regardless of MR imaging findings. Therefore, in the setting of DI and intracranial germinoma without neuroimaging evidence of hypothalamic involvement, germinomatous involvement of the hypothalamus should be assumed present, if not confirmed endoscopically at the time of biopsy sampling or third ventriculostomy, when devising adjuvant treatment plans for such patients.