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Brandon G. Rocque, Bonita S. Agee, Eric M. Thompson, Mark Piedra, Lissa C. Baird, Nathan R. Selden, Stephanie Greene, Christopher P. Deibert, Todd C. Hankinson, Sean M. Lew, Bermans J. Iskandar, Taryn M. Bragg, David Frim, Gerald Grant, Nalin Gupta, Kurtis I. Auguste, Dimitrios C. Nikas, Michael Vassilyadi, Carrie R. Muh, Nicholas M. Wetjen, and Sandi K. Lam


In children, the repair of skull defects arising from decompressive craniectomy presents a unique set of challenges. Single-center studies have identified different risk factors for the common complications of cranioplasty resorption and infection. The goal of the present study was to determine the risk factors for bone resorption and infection after pediatric cranioplasty.


The authors conducted a multicenter retrospective case study that included all patients who underwent cranioplasty to correct a skull defect arising from a decompressive craniectomy at 13 centers between 2000 and 2011 and were less than 19 years old at the time of cranioplasty. Prior systematic review of the literature along with expert opinion guided the selection of variables to be collected. These included: indication for craniectomy; history of abusive head trauma; method of bone storage; method of bone fixation; use of drains; size of bone graft; presence of other implants, including ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt; presence of fluid collections; age at craniectomy; and time between craniectomy and cranioplasty.


A total of 359 patients met the inclusion criteria. The patients’ mean age was 8.4 years, and 51.5% were female. Thirty-eight cases (10.5%) were complicated by infection. In multivariate analysis, presence of a cranial implant (primarily VP shunt) (OR 2.41, 95% CI 1.17–4.98), presence of gastrostomy (OR 2.44, 95% CI 1.03–5.79), and ventilator dependence (OR 8.45, 95% CI 1.10–65.08) were significant risk factors for cranioplasty infection. No other variable was associated with infection.

Of the 240 patients who underwent a cranioplasty with bone graft, 21.7% showed bone resorption significant enough to warrant repeat surgical intervention. The most important predictor of cranioplasty bone resorption was age at the time of cranioplasty. For every month of increased age the risk of bone flap resorption decreased by 1% (OR 0.99, 95% CI 0.98–0.99, p < 0.001). Other risk factors for resorption in multivariate models were the use of external ventricular drains and lumbar shunts.


This is the largest study of pediatric cranioplasty outcomes performed to date. Analysis included variables found to be significant in previous retrospective reports. Presence of a cranial implant such as VP shunt is the most significant risk factor for cranioplasty infection, whereas younger age at cranioplasty is the dominant risk factor for bone resorption.

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Ann Marie Flannery, Catherine A. Mazzola, Paul Klimo Jr., Ann-Christine Duhaime, Lissa C. Baird, Mandeep S. Tamber, David D. Limbrick Jr., Dimitrios C. Nikas, Joanna Kemp, Alexander F. Post, Kurtis I. Auguste, Asim F. Choudhri, Laura S. Mitchell, and Debby Buffa

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Lissa C. Baird, Catherine A. Mazzola, Kurtis I. Auguste, Paul Klimo Jr., and Ann Marie Flannery


The objective of this systematic review was to examine the existing literature to compare differing shunt components used to treat hydrocephalus in children, find whether there is a superior shunt design for the treatment of pediatric hydrocephalus, and make evidence-based recommendations for the selection of shunt implants when placing shunts.


Both the US National Library of Medicine PubMed/MEDLINE database and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews were queried using MeSH headings and key words chosen to identify publications comparing the use of shunt implant components. Abstracts of these publications were reviewed, after which studies meeting the inclusion criteria were selected. An evidentiary table was compiled summarizing the selected articles and quality of evidence. These data were then analyzed by the Pediatric Hydrocephalus Systematic Review and Evidence-Based Guidelines Task Force to consider evidence-based treatment recommendations.


Two hundred sixty-nine articles were identified using the search parameters, and 43 articles were recalled for full-text review. Of these, 22 papers met the study criteria for a comparison of shunt components and were included in the evidentiary table. The included studies consisted of 1 Class I study, 11 Class II studies, and 10 Class III studies. The remaining 21 articles were excluded.


An analysis of the evidence did not demonstrate a clear advantage for any specific shunt component, mechanism, or valve design over another.

Recommendation: There is insufficient evidence to demonstrate an advantage for one shunt hardware design over another in the treatment of pediatric hydrocephalus. Current designs described in the evidentiary tables are all treatment options. Strength of Recommendation: Level I, high degree of clinical certainty.

Recommendation: There is insufficient evidence to recommend the use of a programmable valve versus a nonprogrammable valve. Programmable and nonprogrammable valves are both options for the treatment of pediatric hydrocephalus. Strength of Recommendation: Level II, moderate degree of clinical certainty.