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Katherine G. Holste, Clare M. Wieland, Mohannad Ibrahim, Hemant A. Parmar, Sara Saleh, Hugh J. L. Garton, and Cormac O. Maher


Benign expansion of the subarachnoid spaces (BESS) is a condition seen in macrocephalic infants. BESS is associated with mild developmental delays which tend to resolve within a few years. It is accepted that patients with BESS are at increased risk of spontaneous subdural hematomas (SDHs), although the exact pathophysiology is not well understood. The prevalence of spontaneous SDH in BESS patients is poorly defined, with only a few large single-center series published. In this study the authors aimed to better define BESS prevalence and developmental outcomes through the longitudinal review of a large cohort of BESS patients.


A large retrospective review was performed at a single institution from 1995 to 2020 for patients 2 years of age or younger with a diagnosis of BESS by neurology or neurosurgery and head circumference > 85th percentile. Demographic data, head circumference, presence of developmental delay, occurrence of SDH, and need for surgery were extracted from patient charts. The subarachnoid space (SAS) size was measured from the available MR images, and the sizes of those who did and did not develop SDH were compared.


Free text search revealed BESS mentioned within the medical records of 1410 of 2.6 million patients. After exclusion criteria, 480 patients remained eligible for the study. Thirty-two percent (n = 154) of patients were diagnosed with developmental delay, most commonly gross motor delay (53%). Gross motor delay resolved in 86% of patients at a mean age of 22.2 months. The prevalence of spontaneous SDH in this BESS population over a period of 25 years was 8.1%. There was no significant association between SAS size and SDH formation.


This study represents results for one of the largest cohorts of patients with BESS at a single institution. Gross motor delay was the most common developmental delay diagnosed, and a majority of patients had resolution of their delay. These data support that children with BESS have a higher prevalence of SDH than the general pediatric population, although SAS size was not significantly associated with SDH development.

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Kyle T. Johnson, Wajd N. Al-Holou, Richard C. E. Anderson, Thomas J. Wilson, Tejas Karnati, Mohannad Ibrahim, Hugh J. L. Garton, and Cormac O. Maher


Our understanding of pediatric cervical spine development remains incomplete. The purpose of this analysis was to quantitatively define cervical spine growth in a population of children with normal CT scans.


A total of 1458 children older than 1 year and younger than 18 years of age who had undergone a cervical spine CT scan at the authors' institution were identified. Subjects were separated by sex and age (in years) into 34 groups. Following this assignment, subjects within each group were randomly selected for inclusion until a target of 15 subjects in each group had been measured. Linear measurements were performed on the midsagittal image of the cervical spine. Twenty-three unique measurements were obtained for each subject.


Data showed that normal vertical growth of the pediatric cervical spine continues up to 18 years of age in boys and 14 years of age in girls. Approximately 75% of the vertical growth occurs throughout the subaxial spine and 25% occurs across the craniovertebral region. The C-2 body is the largest single-segment contributor to vertical growth, but the subaxial vertebral bodies and disc spaces also contribute. Overall vertical growth of the cervical spine throughout childhood is dependent on individual vertebral body growth as well as vertical growth of the disc spaces. The majority of spinal canal diameter growth occurs by 4 years of age.


The authors' morphometric analyses establish parameters for normal pediatric cervical spine growth up to 18 years of age. These data should be considered when evaluating children for potential surgical intervention and provide a basis of comparison for studies investigating the effects of cervical spine instrumentation and fusion on subsequent growth.

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Michael J. Cools, Wajd N. Al-Holou, William R. Stetler Jr., Thomas J. Wilson, Karin M. Muraszko, Mohannad Ibrahim, Frank La Marca, Hugh J. L. Garton, and Cormac O. Maher


Filum terminale lipomas (FTLs) are being identified with increasing frequency due to the increasing utilization of MRI. Although an FTL may be associated with tethered cord syndrome (TCS), in many cases FTLs are diagnosed incidentally in patients without any symptoms of TCS. The natural history of FTLs is not well defined.


The authors searched the clinical and imaging records at a single institution over a 14-year interval to identify patients with FTLs. For patients with an FTL, the clinical records were reviewed for indication for imaging, presenting symptoms, perceived need for surgery, and clinical outcome. A natural history analysis was performed using all patients with more than 6 months of clinical follow-up.


A total of 436 patients with FTL were identified. There were 217 males and 219 females. Of these patients, 282 (65%) were adults and 154 (35%) were children. Symptoms of TCS were present in 22 patients (5%). Fifty-two patients underwent surgery for FTL (12%). Sixty-four patients (15%) had a low-lying conus and 21 (5%) had a syrinx. The natural history analysis included 249 patients with a mean follow-up time of 3.5 years. In the follow-up period, only 1 patient developed new symptoms.


Filum terminale lipomas are a common incidental finding on spinal MRI, and most patients present without associated symptoms. The untreated natural history is generally benign for asymptomatic patients.