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• Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics
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## Sociodemographic disparities in fetal surgery for myelomeningocele: a single-center retrospective review

### OBJECTIVE

Fetal surgery for myelomeningocele has become an established treatment that offers less risk of requiring a ventricular shunt and improved functional outcomes for patients. An increasing body of literature has suggested that social determinants of health have a profound influence on health outcomes. The authors sought to determine the socioeconomic and racial and ethnic backgrounds of patients who were treated with fetal surgery versus those who underwent postnatal repair.

### METHODS

Demographic data, the method of myelomeningocele repair, insurance status, and zip code data for patients entered into the National Spina Bifida Patient Registry (NSBPR) from Children’s Wisconsin were collected. The zip code was used to determine the Distressed Communities Index (DCI) score, a composite socioeconomic ranking with scores ranging from 0 (no distress) to 100 (severe distress). The zip code was also used to determine the median household income for each patient based on the US Census Bureau 2013–2017 American Community Survey 5-year estimates.

### RESULTS

A total of 205 patients were identified with zip code and insurance data. There were 23 patients in the fetal surgery group and 182 patients in the postnatal surgery group. All patients were born between 2000 and 2019. Patients in the fetal surgery group were more likely to have commercial insurance (100% vs 52.2%, p < 0.001). Fetal surgery patients were also more likely to be non-Hispanic White (95.7% vs 68.7%, p = 0.058), just missing the level of statistical significance. Patients who underwent fetal surgery tended to reside in zip codes with a higher median household income (mean $66,507 vs$59,133, p = 0.122) and less-distressed communities (mean DCI score 31.3 vs 38.5, p = 0.289); however, these differences did not reach statistical significance.

### CONCLUSIONS

Patients treated with fetal surgery were more likely to have commercial insurance and have a non-Hispanic White racial and ethnic background. The preliminary data suggest that socioeconomic and racial and ethnic disparities may exist regarding access to fetal surgery, and investigation of a larger population of spina bifida patients is warranted.

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## Editorial. Observations on a report of a new neurosurgical service in Nigeria

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## Intracranial neuromodulation with deep brain stimulation and responsive neurostimulation in children with drug-resistant epilepsy: a systematic review

### OBJECTIVE

In children with drug-resistant epilepsy (DRE), resective, ablative, and disconnective surgery may not be feasible or may fail. Neuromodulation in the form of deep brain stimulation (DBS) and responsive neurostimulation (RNS) may be viable treatment options, however evidence for their efficacies in children is currently limited. This systematic review aimed to summarize the literature on DBS and RNS for the treatment of DRE in the pediatric population. Specifically, the authors focused on currently available data for reported indications, neuromodulation targets, clinical efficacy, and safety outcomes.

### METHODS

PRISMA guidelines were followed throughout this systematic review (PROSPERO no. CRD42020180669). Electronic databases, including PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Library, OpenGrey, and CINAHL Plus, were searched from their inception to February 19, 2021. Inclusion criteria were 1) studies with at least 1 pediatric patient (age < 19 years) who underwent DBS and/or RNS for DRE; and 2) retrospective, prospective, randomized, or nonrandomized controlled studies, case series, and case reports. Exclusion criteria were 1) letters, commentaries, conference abstracts, and reviews; and 2) studies without full text available. Risk of bias of the included studies was assessed using the Cochrane ROBINS-I (Risk of Bias in Non-randomised Studies - of Interventions) tool.

### RESULTS

A total of 35 studies were selected that identified 72 and 46 patients who underwent DBS and RNS, respectively (age range 4–18 years). Various epilepsy etiologies and seizure types were described in both cohorts. Overall, 75% of patients had seizure reduction > 50% after DBS (among whom 6 were seizure free) at a median (range) follow-up of 14 (1–100) months. In an exploratory univariate analysis of factors associated with favorable response, the follow-up duration was shorter in those patients with a favorable response (18 vs 33 months, p < 0.05). In the RNS cohort, 73.2% of patients had seizure reduction > 50% after RNS at a median (range) follow-up of 22 (5–39) months. On closer inspection, 83.3% of patients who had > 50% reduction in seizures actually had > 75% reduction, with 4 patients being seizure free.

### CONCLUSIONS

Overall, both DBS and RNS showed favorable response rates, indicating that both techniques should be considered for pediatric patients with DRE. However, serious risks of overall bias were found in all included studies. Many research needs in this area would be addressed by conducting high-quality clinical trials and establishing an international registry of patients who have undergone pediatric neuromodulation, thereby ensuring robust prospective collection of predictive variables and outcomes.

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## Characteristics of concussion based on patient age and sex: a multicenter prospective observational study

### OBJECTIVE

Children with concussion frequently present to emergency departments (EDs). There is limited understanding of the differences in signs, symptoms, and epidemiology of concussion based on patient age. Here, the authors set out to assess the association between age and acute concussion presentations.

### METHODS

The authors conducted a multicenter prospective observational study of head injuries at 10 EDs in Australia and New Zealand. They identified children aged 5 to < 18 years, presenting with a Glasgow Coma Scale score of 13–15, presenting < 24 hours postinjury, with no abnormalities on CT if performed, and one or more signs or symptoms of concussion. They extracted demographic, injury-related, and signs and symptoms information and stratified it by age group (5–8, 9–12, 13 to < 18 years).

### RESULTS

Of 8857 children aged 5 to < 18 years, 4709 patients met the defined concussion criteria (5–8 years, n = 1546; 9–12 years, n = 1617; 13 to < 18 years, n = 1546). The mean age of the cohort was 10.9 years, and approximately 70% of the patients were male. Sport-related concussion accounted for 43.7% of concussions overall, increasing from 19.1% to 48.9% to 63.0% in the 5–8, 9–12, and 13 to < 18 years age groups. The most common acute symptoms postinjury were headache (64.6%), disorientation (36.2%), amnesia (30.0%), and vomiting (27.2%). Vomiting decreased with increasing age and was observed in 41.7% of the 5–8 years group, 24.7% of the 9–12 years group, and 15.4% of the 13 to < 18 years group, whereas reported loss of consciousness (LOC) increased with increasing age, occurring in 9.6% in the 5–8 years group, 21.0% in the 9–12 years group, 36.7% in the 13 to < 18 years group, and 22.4% in the entire study cohort. Headache, amnesia, and disorientation followed the latter trajectory. Symptom profiles were broadly similar between males and females.

### CONCLUSIONS

Concussions presenting to EDs were more sports-related as age increased. Signs and symptoms differed markedly across age groups, with vomiting decreasing and headache, LOC, amnesia, and disorientation increasing with increasing age.

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## Measuring the effects of institutional pediatric traumatic brain injury volume on outcomes for rural-dwelling children

### OBJECTIVE

Rural-dwelling children may suffer worse pediatric traumatic brain injury (TBI) outcomes due to distance from and accessibility to high-volume trauma centers. This study aimed to compare the impacts of institutional TBI volume and sociodemographics on outcomes between rural- and urban-dwelling children.

### METHODS

This retrospective study identified patients 0–19 years of age with ICD-9 codes for TBI in the 2012–2015 National Inpatient Sample database. Patients were characterized as rural- or urban-dwelling using United States Census classification. Logistic and linear (in log scale) regressions were performed to measure the effects of institutional characteristics, patient sociodemographics, and mechanism/severity of injury on occurrence of medical complications, mortality, length of stay (LOS), and costs. Separate models were built for rural- and urban-dwelling patients.

### RESULTS

A total of 19,736 patients were identified (median age 11 years, interquartile range [IQR] 2–16 years, 66% male, 55% Caucasian). Overall, rural-dwelling patients had higher All Patient Refined Diagnosis Related Groups injury severity (median 2 [IQR 1–3] vs 1 [IQR 1–2], p < 0.001) and more intracranial monitoring (6% vs 4%, p < 0.001). Univariate analysis showed that overall, rural-dwelling patients suffered increased medical complications (6% vs 4%, p < 0.001), mortality (6% vs 4%, p < 0.001), and LOS (median 2 days [IQR 1–4 days ] vs 2 days [IQR 1–3 days], p < 0.001), but multivariate analysis showed rural-dwelling status was not associated with these outcomes after adjusting for injury severity, mechanism, and hospital characteristics. Institutional TBI volume was not associated with medical complications, disposition, or mortality for either population but was associated with LOS for urban-dwelling patients (nonlinear beta, p = 0.008) and cost for both rural-dwelling (nonlinear beta, p < 0.001) and urban-dwelling (nonlinear beta, p < 0.001) patients.

### CONCLUSIONS

Overall, rural-dwelling pediatric patients with TBI have worsened injury severity, mortality, and in-hospital complications, but these disparities disappear after adjusting for injury severity and mechanism. Institutional TBI volume does not impact clinical outcomes for rural- or urban-dwelling children after adjusting for these covariates. Addressing the root causes of the increased injury severity at hospital arrival may be a useful path to improve TBI outcomes for rural-dwelling children.

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## The semisitting position in pediatric neurosurgery: pearls and pitfalls of a 10-year experience

### OBJECTIVE

The authors sought to investigate the pearls and pitfalls of using the semisitting position in pediatric neurosurgery, with special focus on related morbidity and surgical practicability.

### METHODS

All pediatric cases at a single institution were evaluated retrospectively. Those patients who underwent procedures in the semisitting position between December 2010 and December 2020 were included in the final analysis. Results were compared with all children who underwent surgery in the prone position for posterior fossa lesions within the same time frame.

### RESULTS

A total of 42 posterior fossa surgeries were performed in 38 children in the semisitting position between December 2010 and December 2020. The mean patient age at the time of surgery was 8.9 years (range 13 months–18 years). The data of 24 surgeries performed in the prone position in 22 children during the same time frame were analyzed in comparison. Three children (7.9%) were diagnosed with a persistent foramen ovale preoperatively. The surgery was completed in all cases. The incidence of venous air embolism (VAE) was 11.9%. There was no VAE-related hemodynamic instability, infarction, or death. Endoscopic techniques were applied safely in 14 cases (33.3%). Postoperative pneumocephalus occurred significantly more frequently in patients who had undergone procedures in the semisitting position (p < 0.05), but without the need for intervention. During 1 surgery (2.4%), the patient experienced a postoperative skull fracture and epidural bleeding due to the skull clamp application. Clinical status of the patients immediately after surgery was improved or stable in 33 of the 42 surgeries (78.6%) performed in the semisitting position.

### CONCLUSIONS

With attentive performance and an experienced surgical team, the semisitting position is a safe option for posterior fossa surgery in the pediatric population. With a comparable complication profile, the semisitting position offers excellent anatomical exposure, which is ideal for the application of endoscopic visualization. Careful skull clamp application and appropriate monitoring are highly recommended.

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## Effects of hypertonic saline on intracranial pressure and cerebral autoregulation in pediatric traumatic brain injury

### OBJECTIVE

Hypertonic saline (HTS) is commonly used in children to lower intracranial pressure (ICP) after severe traumatic brain injury (sTBI). While ICP and cerebral perfusion pressure (CPP) correlate moderately to TBI outcome, indices of cerebrovascular autoregulation enhance the correlation of neuromonitoring data to neurological outcome. In this study, the authors sought to investigate the effect of HTS administration on ICP, CPP, and autoregulation in pediatric patients with sTBI.

### METHODS

Twenty-eight pediatric patients with sTBI who were intubated and sedated were included. Blood pressure and ICP were actively managed according to the autoregulation index PRx (pressure relativity index to determine and maintain an optimal CPP [CPPopt]). In cases in which ICP was continuously > 20 mm Hg despite all other measures to decrease it, an infusion of 3% HTS was administered. The monitoring data of the first 6 hours after HTS administration were analyzed. The Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS) score at the 3-month follow-up was used as the primary outcome measure, and patients were dichotomized into favorable (GOS score 4 or 5) and unfavorable (GOS score 1–3) groups.

### RESULTS

The mean dose of HTS was 40 ml 3% NaCl. No significant difference in ICP and PRx was seen between groups at the HTS administration. ICP was lowered significantly in all children, with the effect lasting as long as 6 hours. The lowering of ICP was significantly greater and longer in children with a favorable outcome (p < 0.001); only this group showed significant improvement of autoregulatory capacity (p = 0.048). A newly established HTS response index clearly separated the outcome groups.

### CONCLUSIONS

HTS significantly lowered ICP in all children after sTBI. This effect was significantly greater and longer-lasting in children with a favorable outcome. Moreover, HTS administration restored disturbed autoregulation only in the favorable outcome group. This highlights the role of a “rescuable” autoregulation regarding outcome, which might be a possible indicator of injury severity. The effect of HTS on autoregulation and other possible mechanisms should be further investigated.