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Postconception age at surgery as a predictor of ventriculoperitoneal shunt failure

Hannah G. Black, E. Alice Woolard, Caren M. Stuebe, Andrea Torres, Andrew Caddell, and Carolyn Quinsey

OBJECTIVE

The gold standard of pediatric hydrocephalus management is the ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt. However, VP shunts have high failure rates, and both young age and prematurity have been identified as potential risk factors for shunt failure, although neither variable describes total development at the time of surgery. This study aimed to further characterize age and shunt failure through the use of postconception age at surgery (PCAS) as well as investigate the 40-week PCAS threshold initially described in 1999.

METHODS

A retrospective analysis was conducted on all first-time shunt placements at the authors’ institution from 2010 to 2021. The National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) pediatric hydrocephalus dataset was used as a parallel analysis to ensure representativeness of the national pediatric hydrocephalus population.

RESULTS

In the institutional cohort, infants with a PCAS < 40 weeks exhibited 2.4 times greater odds of shunt failure than those with a PCAS ≥ 40 weeks. In the NSQIP dataset, infants with a PCAS < 40 weeks had 1.45 times greater odds of shunt failure compared with those with a PCAS ≥ 40 weeks.

CONCLUSIONS

The 40-week PCAS threshold appears to be a significant predictor of shunt failure in pediatric patients with hydrocephalus. This finding underscores the importance of considering the developmental stage at the time of surgery, rather than just prematurity status, when assessing shunt failure risk.

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Differences in clinical outcomes and resource utilization in pediatric traumatic brain injury between countries of different sociodemographic indices

Keith Wei Han Liang, Jan Hau Lee, Syeda K. Qadri, Janani Nadarajan, Paula Caporal, Juan D. Roa G, Sebastián González-Dambrauskas, Qalab Abbas, Yasser Kazzaz, and Shu-Ling Chong

OBJECTIVE

The burden of traumatic brain injury (TBI) is disproportionately high in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). This study aimed to compare clinical outcomes and healthcare utilization for children with moderate to severe TBIs between LMICs and non-LMICs in Asia and Latin America.

METHODS

The authors performed an observational multicenter study from January 2014 to February 2023 among children with moderate to severe TBIs admitted to participating pediatric intensive care units (PICUs) in the Pediatric Acute and Critical Care Medicine Asian Network (PACCMAN) and Red Colaborativa Pediátrica de Latinoamérica (LARed Network). They classified sites according to their 2019 sociodemographic index (SDI). Low, low-middle, and middle SDI sites were considered LMICs, while high-middle and high SDI sites were considered non-LMICs. The authors documented patient demographics and TBI management. Accounting for death, they recorded 14-day PICU-free and 28-day hospital-free days, with fewer free days indicating poorer outcome. The authors compared children who died and those who had poor functional outcomes (defined as Pediatric Cerebral Performance Category [PCPC] level of moderate disability, severe disability, or vegetative state or coma) between LMICs and non-LMICs and performed a multivariable logistic regression analysis for predicting poor functional outcomes.

RESULTS

In total, 771 children with TBIs were analyzed. Mortality was comparable between LMICs and non-LMICs (9.6% vs 12.9%, p = 0.146). Children with TBIs from LMICs were more likely to have a poor PCPC outcome (31.0% vs 21.3%, p = 0.004) and had fewer ICU-free days (median [IQR] 6 [0–10] days vs 8 [0–11] days, p = 0.004) and hospital-free days (median [IQR] 9 [0–18] days vs 13 [0–20] days, p = 0.007). Poor functional outcomes were associated with LMIC status (adjusted OR [aOR] 1.53, 95% CI 1.04–2.26), a lower Glasgow Coma Scale score (aOR 0.83, 95% CI 0.78–0.88), and the presence of multiple trauma (aOR 1.49, 95% CI 1.01–2.19). Children with TBIs in LMICs required greater resource utilization in the form of early intubation and mechanical ventilation (81.6% vs 73.2%, p = 0.006), use of hyperosmolar therapy (77.7% vs 63.6%, p < 0.001), and use of antiepileptic drugs (73.9% vs 53.1%, p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

Within Asia and Latin America, children with TBIs in LMICs were more likely to have poor functional outcomes and required greater resource utilization. Further research should focus on investigating causal factors and developing targeted interventions to mitigate these disparities.

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Measurement of the intersiphon distance for normal skull base development and estimation of the surgical window for the endoscopic transtuberculum approach in children

Joo Whan Kim, Ji Hoon Phi, Seung-Ki Kim, and Yong Hwy Kim

OBJECTIVE

Due to the underdeveloped skull base in children, it is crucial to predict whether a sufficient surgical window for an endoscopic endonasal approach can be achieved. This study aimed to analyze the presumed surgical window through measurement of the intersiphon distance (ISD) and the planum-sella height (PSH) on the basis of age and its correlation with the actual surgical window for the endoscopic transtuberculum approach.

METHODS

Twenty patients of each age from 3 to 18 years were included as the normal skull base population. ISD and PSH were measured and compared among consecutive ages. Additionally, 42 children with craniopharyngiomas or Rathke’s cleft cysts who underwent treatment via the endoscopic transtuberculum approach were included. ISD and PSH were measured on preoperative images and then correlated with the dimensions of the surgical window on postoperative CT scans. The intraoperative endoscopic view was classified as narrow, intermediate, or wide based on operative photographs or videos, and relevant clinical factors were analyzed.

RESULTS

In the normal skull base population, both ISD and the estimated area of the surgical window increased with age, particularly at 8 and 11 years old. On the other hand, PSH did not show an incremental pattern with age. Among the 42 children who underwent surgery, 24 had craniopharyngioma and 18 had Rathke’s cleft cysts. ISD showed the strongest correlation with the actual area of the surgical window [r(40) = 0.69, p < 0.001] rather than with age or PSH. The visual grade of the intraoperative endoscopic view was narrow in 17 patients, intermediate in 21, and wide in 4. Preoperative ISD was 14.58 ± 1.29 mm in the narrow group, 16.13 ± 2.30 mm in the intermediate group, and 18.09 ± 3.43 mm in the wide group (p < 0.01). There were no differences in terms of extent of resection (p = 0.41); however, 2 patients in the narrow group had postoperative complications.

CONCLUSIONS

Normal skull base development exhibited age-related growth. However, in children with suprasellar lesions, the measurement of the ISD showed a better correlation than age for predicting the surgical window for the endoscopic transtuberculum approach. Children with a small ISD should be approached with caution due to the limited surgical window.

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Clinical characteristics of upper cervical spine injuries in children: a retrospective case series

Dayae Jeong, Suzanne Beno, James M. Drake, and Gabrielle Freire

OBJECTIVE

Pediatric cervical spine injuries (CSI) can be devastating, and children < 8 years are particularly at risk for upper CSI given unique anatomical differences. Diagnosis of these injuries can be delayed due to variable clinical presentations and a paucity of existing literature. The authors aimed to characterize the spectrum of pediatric upper CSI.

METHODS

This was a retrospective, single-center case series of trauma patients aged < 16 years who were assessed at a level I pediatric trauma center and diagnosed with upper CSI between 2000 and 2020. Patients were included if they had evidence of bony or ligamentous injury from the occiput to C2 on imaging or autopsy. Data were obtained from manual chart review and analyzed using descriptive statistics.

RESULTS

In total, 502 patients were screened and 202 met inclusion criteria. Of these, 31 (15%) had atlanto-occipital (AO) joint distractions, 10 (5%) had atlanto-axial (AA) joint distractions, 31 (15%) had fractures of C1–2, and 130 (64%) had ligamentous injury without joint distraction. Of the patients with AO injury, 15 patients had complete dislocation. They presented as hemodynamically unstable with signs of herniation and 14 died (93%). In contrast, 16 had incomplete dislocation (subluxation). They usually had stable presentations and survived with good outcomes. Of the patients with AA injury, 2 had complete dislocation, presented with arrest and signs of herniation, and died. In contrast, 8 patients with subluxation mostly presented as clinically stable and all survived with little residual disability. The most common fractures of C1 were linear fractures of the lateral masses and of the anterior and posterior arches. The most common fractures of C2 were synchondrosis, hangman, and odontoid fractures. Overall, these patients had excellent outcomes. Ligamentous injuries frequently accompanied other brain or spine injuries. When these injuries were isolated, patients recovered well.

CONCLUSIONS

Among upper CSI, AO and AA joint injuries emerged as particularly severe with high mortality rates. Both could be divided into complete dislocations or incomplete subluxations, with clear clinical differences and the former presenting with much more severe injuries. Lateral cervical spine radiography should be considered during resuscitation of unstable trauma patients to assess for these CSI subtypes. Fractures and ligamentous injuries were clinically heterogeneous, with presentations and outcomes depending on severity and associated injuries.

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Improving access to pediatric hydrocephalus care for all: the role of maternal health literacy and socioeconomic status

Olufemi E. Idowu, Jeuel O. Idowu, and Oluwatobiloba C. Badmus

OBJECTIVE

Limited research has addressed the barriers impeding access to surgical care for pediatric patients with hydrocephalus. To identify priorities for enhancing access to pediatric hydrocephalus surgical care and to address healthcare disparities, it is essential to understand the level of access to care and the influence of socioeconomic status (SES) and maternal health literacy. In this study, the authors aimed to assess the level of access to surgical care; determine the frequency of more than a 2-week delay in seeking, reaching, and receiving care; and investigate the influence of parental SES and maternal health literacy on these delays.

METHODS

This observational prospective cohort study involved data collection from a sample of 100 pediatric patients aged ≤ 5 years with hydrocephalus and their mothers, including information on family SES (education, occupational, and economic status). Maternal health literacy was assessed using the Brief Health Literacy Screen (BHLS) questionnaire. The Three Delays framework from the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery, categorizing delays in seeking care, reaching care, and definitive care, provided a structured approach for analyzing access delays. Statistical significance was set at p < 0.05.

RESULTS

Among the pediatric patients, there was a male-to-female ratio of 1.7:1, with a median age of 1.5 months. None of the patients had insurance coverage that included surgical treatment. A significantly low number of patients accessed care within 2 weeks for seeking care duration (34%), reaching care duration (15%), and definitive care duration (1%). The median time to definitive surgical treatment for the entire study population was 14 weeks (upper SES: median 6.3 weeks, middle SES: median 9.8 weeks, lower SES: median 16.7 weeks). Through Cox proportional hazards regression, a hazard ratio of 0.046 (95% CI 0.010–0.210) was obtained. Multiple linear regression analysis identified BHLS Brief D (β = −0.335, p = 0.001) and SES (β = 0.389, p < 0.001) as predictor variables for delays in seeking care and definitive care, respectively. SES (β = 0.446, p < 0.001) and Evans index (β = 0.233, p = 0.010) were predictor variables for delays in reaching care.

CONCLUSIONS

Maternal health literacy and SES were identified as factors associated with delays in accessing neurosurgical care for pediatric patients with hydrocephalus. To reduce disparities in pediatric hydrocephalus care, it is essential to implement strategies that promote education, improve healthcare infrastructure, and provide support to families encountering challenges related to low SES and limited maternal health literacy.

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Pediatric neurosurgery through the lens of time-driven activity-based costing: a pilot study

Kiana Y. Prather, Burak Ozaydin, Mikayla Peters, Emily Tally, Kristin Zieles, Michael E. Omini, Joanna E. Gernsback, Virendra R. Desai, Karl E. Balsara, and Andrew Jea

OBJECTIVE

Time-driven activity-based costing (TDABC) is a method used in cost accounting that has gained traction in health economics to identify value optimization initiatives. It measures time, assigns value to time increments spent on a patient, and integrates the cost of material and human resources utilized in each episode of care. In this study, the authors report the first use of TDABC to evaluate costs in a pediatric neurosurgical practice.

METHODS

A clinical pathway was developed with a multifunction team. A time survey among each care team member, including surgeons, medical assistants (MAs), and patient service representatives (PSRs), was carried out prospectively over a 10-week period at a pediatric neurosurgery clinic. Consecutive patient encounters for Chiari malformation (CM), hydrocephalus, or tethered cord syndrome (TCS) were included. Encounters were categorized as new or established. Relative annual personnel costs, using the salary of a PSR as a reference (i.e., 1.0-unit cost), were calculated for all members using departmental financial data after adjustments. The relative capacity cost rates (minute−1) for each personnel, a representation of per capita cost per minute, were then derived, and the relative costs per visit were calculated.

RESULTS

A total of 110 visits (24 new, 86 established) were captured, including 40% CM, 41% hydrocephalus, and 19% TCS encounters. Surgeons had the highest relative capacity cost rate (118.4 × 10−6), more than 10-fold higher than that of an MA or PSR (10.65 × 10−6 and 9.259 × 10−6, respectively). Surgeons also logged more time with patients compared with the rest of the care team in nearly all visits (p ≤ 0.002); consequently, the total visit costs were primarily driven by the surgeon cost (p < 0.0001). Overall, surgeon cost constituted the vast majority of the total visit cost (92%–93%), regardless of whether the visits were new or established. Visit costs did not differ by diagnosis. On average, new visits took longer than established visits (p < 0.001). This difference was largely driven by new CM visits (44.3 ± 13.7 minutes), which were significantly longer than established CM visits (29.8 ± 9.2 minutes; p = 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

TDABC may reveal opportunities to maximize value by highlighting instances of variability and high cost in each module of care delivery. Physician leaders in pediatric neurosurgery may be able to use this information to allocate costs and streamline value care pathways.

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A re-evaluation of the Endoscopic Third Ventriculostomy Success Score: a Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network study

Leonard H. Verhey, Abhaya V. Kulkarni, Ron W. Reeder, Jay Riva-Cambrin, Hailey Jensen, Ian F. Pollack, Brandon G. Rocque, Mandeep S. Tamber, Patrick J. McDonald, Mark D. Krieger, Jonathan A. Pindrik, Jason S. Hauptman, Samuel R. Browd, William E. Whitehead, Eric M. Jackson, John C. Wellons III, Todd C. Hankinson, Jason Chu, David D. Limbrick Jr., Jennifer M. Strahle, John R. W. Kestle, and for the Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network

OBJECTIVE

The Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network (HCRN) conducted a prospective study 1) to determine if a new, better-performing version of the Endoscopic Third Ventriculostomy Success Score (ETVSS) could be developed, 2) to explore the performance characteristics of the original ETVSS in a modern endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) cohort, and 3) to determine if the addition of radiological variables to the ETVSS improved its predictive abilities.

METHODS

From April 2008 to August 2019, children (corrected age ≤ 17.5 years) who underwent a first-time ETV for hydrocephalus were included in a prospective multicenter HCRN study. All children had at least 6 months of clinical follow-up and were followed since the index ETV in the HCRN Core Data Registry. Children who underwent choroid plexus cauterization were excluded. Outcome (ETV success) was defined as the lack of ETV failure within 6 months of the index procedure. Kaplan-Meier curves were constructed to evaluate time-dependent variables. Multivariable binary logistic models were built to evaluate predictors of ETV success. Model performance was evaluated with Hosmer-Lemeshow and Harrell’s C statistics.

RESULTS

Seven hundred sixty-one children underwent a first-time ETV. The rate of 6-month ETV success was 76%. The Hosmer-Lemeshow and Harrell’s C statistics of the logistic model containing more granular age and etiology categorizations did not differ significantly from a model containing the ETVSS categories. In children ≥ 12 months of age with ETVSSs of 50 or 60, the original ETVSS underestimated success, but this analysis was limited by a small sample size. Fronto-occipital horn ratio (p = 0.37), maximum width of the third ventricle (p = 0.39), and downward concavity of the floor of the third ventricle (p = 0.63) did not predict ETV success. A possible association between the degree of prepontine adhesions on preoperative MRI and ETV success was detected, but this did not reach statistical significance.

CONCLUSIONS

This modern, multicenter study of ETV success shows that the original ETVSS continues to demonstrate good predictive ability, which was not substantially improved with a new success score. There might be an association between preoperative prepontine adhesions and ETV success, and this needs to be evaluated in a future large prospective study.

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Intraoperative neuromonitoring potentials and evidence of preserved neuronal circuitry below the anatomical and functional level in patients with complex spinal dysraphism undergoing detethering reoperations

Margaret McGrath, Sananthan Sivakanthan, Sharon Durfy, Amy Lee, Samuel Browd, Jason S. Hauptman, Richard G. Ellenbogen, Gregory A. Kinney, Jeffrey G. Ojemann, and Hannah E. Goldstein

OBJECTIVE

Spina bifida represents one of the most common birth defects, occurring in approximately 1–2 children per 1000 live births worldwide. The functional level of patients with spina bifida is highly variable and believed to be correlated with the anatomical level of the lesion. The variable clinical picture is well established, but the correlation with anatomical level and intraoperative neuromonitoring (IONM) data has not been investigated. Furthermore, the potential for preserving function beyond the apparent clinical level has also not been investigated. The objective of this research was to determine the presence and level of intraoperative transcranial motor evoked potential (tcMEP) and triggered electromyography (tEMG) responses, and the association of these responses with preoperative clinical function and radiographic data in pediatric cases of complex tethered cord release reoperations.

METHODS

A single-center retrospective review of pediatric patients with complex spinal dysraphism undergoing detethering reoperations was conducted. Preoperative demographic and clinical data, including the radiographic and clinical level of dysraphism, were collected. IONM, including tcMEPs and tEMG responses, were obtained and compared with preoperative clinical data. Descriptive analysis was performed, by patient for demographics and by case for surgeries performed.

RESULTS

In 100% of 21 cases of complex detethering reoperations, representing 20 patients, intraoperative tcMEPs could be generated at (4.8%) or below (95.2%) the level of clinical function. Compared with the preoperative clinical examination, 5 cases (23.8%) demonstrated tcMEP responses that were 1 level below the clinical function level, 11 cases (52.4%) were 2 levels below, and 4 cases (19.0%) were 3 levels below. Overall, 18 of 21 cases showed tEMG responses at or below the level of clinical function; of these, 7 cases (33%) were 1 level below and 3 (14%) were ≥ 2 levels below the clinical function level.

CONCLUSIONS

The presence of positive stimulation potentials below the level of clinical function in patients with complex spinal dysraphism undergoing detethering reoperations indicates a degree of preserved neuronal connectivity. These findings suggest novel future treatment approaches for these patients, including using devices targeted to stimulation of these neurological pathways.

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Patient and caregiver perceptions of Chiari malformation: a qualitative analysis of online discussion boards

Gretchen M. Koller, Michael R. Kann, Sangami Pugazenthi, Shriya Koneru, Sanjeevani Bhavsar, and Jennifer M. Strahle

OBJECTIVE

Patients and their caregivers utilize online discussion board forums as a means to seek and exchange information about their or a loved one’s condition. It is important for providers to be aware of such concerns and experiences. The goal of this study was to identify the primary concerns expressed on these discussion boards regarding Chiari malformation type I (CM) and to help guide clinicians in understanding patient challenges in the treatment of CM.

METHODS

The authors performed thematic analysis of anonymous online discussion board posts as identified through internet search engines. They then adopted a previously developed grounded theory method that utilizes a three-tiered coding and grouping process of posts based on commonly discovered content themes.

RESULTS

Analysis of 400 discussion board posts identified four distinct themes raised by CM patients and their caregivers: the path to diagnosis, symptoms experienced, surgical intervention, and high emotional burden. Although each individual experience was unique, the path toward a CM diagnosis was expressed as a journey involving multiple physicians, alternative diagnoses, and feelings of dismissal from providers. The most common reported symptoms included dizziness, headaches, neck and back pain, sensory issues, weakness and paresthesias of the extremities, speech issues, and general fatigue. Additionally, there was an overall sense of uncertainty from patients seeking advice regarding surgical intervention, with users expressing diverse sentiments that included both positive and negative outcomes regarding surgical treatment. Lastly, a wide range of emotions was expressed related to a CM diagnosis, including concern, worry, anxiety, depression, stress, fear, and frustration.

CONCLUSIONS

CM is a frequent imaging diagnosis identified in patients presenting with a wide range of symptoms, and as a result this leads to a diverse set of patient experiences. Analysis of CM patient and caregiver discussion boards revealed key themes that clinicians may address when counseling for CM.

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Sport-related concussion in 8- to 12-year-olds: an understudied population

Michael Zargari, Jacob Jo, Kristen Williams, Aaron M. Yengo-Kahn, E. Haley Vance, Christopher M. Bonfield, Douglas P. Terry, and Scott L. Zuckerman

OBJECTIVE

Most studies regarding sport-related concussion (SRC) focus on high school and collegiate athletes; however, little has been published on children younger than 12 years of age. In a cohort of children aged 8–12 years with SRC, the authors sought to describe demographics, initial presentation, and recovery in this understudied population.

METHODS

A retrospective cohort study of children aged 8–12 years who sustained an SRC between November 2017 and April 2022 and were treated at a regional sports concussion center was conducted. Demographic information, injury characteristics, traditional Sport Concussion Assessment Tool 5 (SCAT5) and Child/Parent SCAT5 scores, and outcomes, defined as days to return to learn (RTL), symptom resolution, and return to play (RTP), were reported. Outcomes in boys and girls were compared using effect size analyses given sample size constraints.

RESULTS

Forty-seven athletes were included. The mean age was 11.0 ± 0.8 years, and the majority were male (34, 72.3%). A sizable proportion of patients visited an emergency department (19, 40.4%), and many received head imaging (16, 34.0%), mostly via CT (n = 13). The most common sport for boys was football (15, 44.1%), and the most common sports for girls were soccer (4, 30.8%) and cheerleading (4, 30.8%). These athletes reported a variety of symptoms on presentation. It took a mean of 8.8 ± 10.8 days to RTL, 27.3 ± 38.3 days to reach symptom resolution, and 35.4 ± 41.9 days to RTP. When comparing boys versus girls, there appeared to be moderate differences in symptom severity scores (Cohen’s d = 0.44 for SCAT5, 0.13 for Child SCAT5, and 0.38 for Parent SCAT5) and minimal differences in recovery (Cohen’s d = 0.11 for RTL, n = 35; 0.22 for symptom resolution, n = 22; and 0.12 for RTP, n = 21).

CONCLUSIONS

In this cohort of concussed athletes aged 8–12 years, a little less than half of the athletes initially presented to the emergency department, and approximately one-third received acute head imaging. Across all athletes, the mean RTL was slightly more than a week and the mean symptom resolution and RTP were both approximately 1 month; however, much of the cohort is missing recovery outcome measures. This study demonstrated a strong positive correlation between Child SCAT5 and Parent SCAT5 symptom reporting. Future efforts are needed to evaluate differences in clinical presentation and outcomes following SRC between children and older populations.