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Spinal instrumentation in infants, children, and adolescents: a review

JNSPG 75th Anniversary Invited Review Article

Stephen Mendenhall, Dillon Mobasser, Katherine Relyea and Andrew Jea

OBJECTIVE

The evolution of pediatric spinal instrumentation has progressed in the last 70 years since the popularization of the Harrington rod showing the feasibility of placing spinal instrumentation into the pediatric spine. Although lacking in pediatric-specific spinal instrumentation, when possible, adult instrumentation techniques and tools have been adapted for the pediatric spine. A new generation of pediatric neurosurgeons with interest in complex spine disorder has pushed the field forward, while keeping the special nuances of the growing immature spine in mind. The authors sought to review their own experience with various types of spinal instrumentation in the pediatric spine and document the state of the art for pediatric spine surgery.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed patients in their practice who underwent complex spine surgery. Patient demographics, operative data, and perioperative complications were recorded. At the same time, the authors surveyed the literature for spinal instrumentation techniques that have been utilized in the pediatric spine. The authors chronicle the past and present of pediatric spinal instrumentation, and speculate about its future.

RESULTS

The medical records of the first 361 patients who underwent 384 procedures involving spinal instrumentation from July 1, 2007, to May 31, 2018, were analyzed. The mean age at surgery was 12 years and 6 months (range 3 months to 21 years and 4 months). The types of spinal instrumentation utilized included occipital screws (94 cases); C1 lateral mass screws (115 cases); C2 pars/translaminar screws (143 cases); subaxial cervical lateral mass screws (95 cases); thoracic and lumbar spine traditional-trajectory and cortical-trajectory pedicle screws (234 cases); thoracic and lumbar sublaminar, subtransverse, and subcostal polyester bands (65 cases); S1 pedicle screws (103 cases); and S2 alar-iliac/iliac screws (56 cases). Complications related to spinal instrumentation included hardware-related skin breakdown (1.8%), infection (1.8%), proximal junctional kyphosis (1.0%), pseudarthroses (1.0%), screw malpositioning (0.5%), CSF leak (0.5%), hardware failure (0.5%), graft migration (0.3%), nerve root injury (0.3%), and vertebral artery injury (0.3%).

CONCLUSIONS

Pediatric neurosurgeons with an interest in complex spine disorders in children should develop a comprehensive armamentarium of safe techniques for placing rigid and nonrigid spinal instrumentation even in the smallest of children, with low complication rates. The authors’ review provides some benchmarks and outcomes for comparison, and furnishes a historical perspective of the past and future of pediatric spine surgery.

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Nikita G. Alexiades, Edward S. Ahn, Jeffrey P. Blount, Douglas L. Brockmeyer, Samuel R. Browd, Gerald A. Grant, Gregory G. Heuer, Todd C. Hankinson, Bermans J. Iskandar, Andrew Jea, Mark D. Krieger, Jeffrey R. Leonard, David D. Limbrick Jr., Cormac O. Maher, Mark R. Proctor, David I. Sandberg, John C. Wellons III, Belinda Shao, Neil A. Feldstein and Richard C. E. Anderson

OBJECTIVE

Complications after complex tethered spinal cord (cTSC) surgery include infections and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leaks. With little empirical evidence to guide management, there is variability in the interventions undertaken to limit complications. Expert-based best practices may improve the care of patients undergoing cTSC surgery. Here, authors conducted a study to identify consensus-driven best practices.

METHODS

The Delphi method was employed to identify consensual best practices. A literature review regarding cTSC surgery together with a survey of current practices was distributed to 17 board-certified pediatric neurosurgeons. Thirty statements were then formulated and distributed to the group. Results of the second survey were discussed during an in-person meeting leading to further consensus, which was defined as ≥ 80% agreement on a 4-point Likert scale (strongly agree, agree, disagree, strongly disagree).

RESULTS

Seventeen consensus-driven best practices were identified, with all participants willing to incorporate them into their practice. There were four preoperative interventions: (1, 2) asymptomatic AND symptomatic patients should be referred to urology preoperatively, (3, 4) routine preoperative urine cultures are not necessary for asymptomatic AND symptomatic patients. There were nine intraoperative interventions: (5) patients should receive perioperative cefazolin or an equivalent alternative in the event of allergy, (6) chlorhexidine-based skin preparation is the preferred regimen, (7) saline irrigation should be used intermittently throughout the case, (8) antibiotic-containing irrigation should be used following dural closure, (9) a nonlocking running suture technique should be used for dural closure, (10) dural graft overlay should be used when unable to obtain primary dural closure, (11) an expansile dural graft should be incorporated in cases of lipomyelomeningocele in which primary dural closure does not permit free flow of CSF, (12) paraxial muscles should be closed as a layer separate from the fascia, (13) routine placement of postoperative drains is not necessary. There were three postoperative interventions: (14) postoperative antibiotics are an option and, if given, should be discontinued within 24 hours; (15) patients should remain flat for at least 24 hours postoperatively; (16) routine use of abdominal binders or other compressive devices postoperatively is not necessary. One intervention was prioritized for additional study: (17) further study of additional gram-negative perioperative coverage is needed.

CONCLUSIONS

A modified Delphi technique was used to develop consensus-driven best practices for decreasing wound complications after cTSC surgery. Further study is required to determine if implementation of these practices will lead to reduced complications. Discussion through the course of this study resulted in the initiation of a multicenter study of gram-negative surgical site infections in cTSC surgery.

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Ali A. Baaj, Douglas Brockmeyer, Andrew Jea and Amer F. Samdani

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Thomas J. Gianaris, Ryan Nazar, Emily Middlebrook, David D. Gonda, Andrew Jea and Daniel H. Fulkerson

OBJECTIVE

Endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) is a surgical alternative to placing a CSF shunt in certain patients with hydrocephalus. The ETV Success Score (ETVSS) is a reliable, simple method to estimate the success of the procedure by 6 months of postoperative follow-up. The highest score is 90, estimating a 90% chance of the ETV effectively treating hydrocephalus without requiring a shunt. Treatment with ETV fails in certain patients, despite their being the theoretically best candidates for the procedure. In this study the authors attempted to identify factors that further predicted success in patients with the highest ETVSSs.

METHODS

A retrospective review was performed of all patients treated with ETV at 3 institutions. Demographic, radiological, and clinical data were recorded. All patients by definition were older than 1 year, had obstructive hydrocephalus, and did not have a prior shunt. Failure of ETV was defined as the need for a shunt by 1 year. The ETV was considered a success if the patient did not require another surgery (either shunt placement or a repeat endoscopic procedure) by 1 year. A statistical analysis was performed to identify factors associated with success or failure.

RESULTS

Fifty-nine patients met the entry criteria for the study. Eleven patients (18.6%) required further surgery by 1 year. All of these patients received a shunt. The presenting symptom of lethargy statistically correlated with success (p = 0.0126, odds ratio [OR] = 0.072). The preoperative radiological finding of transependymal flow (p = 0.0375, OR 0.158) correlated with success. A postoperative larger maximum width of the third ventricle correlated with failure (p = 0.0265).

CONCLUSIONS

The preoperative findings of lethargy and transependymal flow statistically correlated with success. This suggests that the best candidates for ETV are those with a relatively acute elevation of intracranial pressure. Cases without these findings may represent the failures in this highly selected group.

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Guillermo Aldave, Daniel Hansen, Steven W. Hwang, Amee Moreno, Valentina Briceño and Andrew Jea

OBJECTIVE

Tethered cord syndrome is the clinical manifestation of an abnormal stretch on the spinal cord, presumably causing mechanical injury, a compromised blood supply, and altered spinal cord metabolism. Tethered cord release is the standard treatment for tethered cord syndrome. However, direct untethering of the spinal cord carries potential risks, such as new neurological deficits from spinal cord injury, a CSF leak from opening the dura, and retethering of the spinal cord from normal scar formation after surgery. To avoid these risks, the authors applied spinal column shortening to children and transitional adults with primary and secondary tethered cord syndrome and report treatment outcomes. The authors' aim with this study was to determine the safety and efficacy of spinal column shortening for tethered cord syndrome by analyzing their experience with this surgical technique.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed the demographic and procedural data of children and young adults who had undergone spinal column shortening for primary or secondary tethered cord syndrome.

RESULTS

Seven patients with tethered cord syndrome caused by myelomeningocele, lipomyelomeningocele, and transitional spinal lipoma were treated with spinal column shortening. One patient with less than 24 months of follow-up was excluded from further analysis. There were 3 males and 4 females; the average age at the time was surgery was 16 years (range 8–30 years). Clinical presentations for our patients included pain (in 5 patients), weakness (in 4 patients), and bowel/bladder dysfunction (in 4 patients). Spinal column osteotomy was most commonly performed at the L-1 level, with fusion between T-12 and L-2 using a pedicle screw-rod construct. Pedicle subtraction osteotomy was performed in 6 patients, and vertebral column resection was performed in 1 patient. The average follow-up period was 31 months (range 26–37 months). Computed tomography–based radiographic outcomes showed solid fusion and no instrumentation failure in all cases by the most recent follow-up. Five of 7 patients (71%) reported improvement in preoperative symptoms during the follow-up period. The mean differences in initial and most recent Scoliosis Research Society Outcomes Questionnaire and Oswestry Disability Index scores were 0.26 and –13%, respectively; minimum clinically important difference in SRS-22 and ODI were assumed to be 0.4% and –12.8%, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS

Spinal column shortening seems to represent a safe and efficacious alternative to traditional untethering of the spinal cord for tethered cord syndrome.

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Ali H. Palejwala, Jared S. Fridley, Krystal Garcia, Sanjeev A. Vasudevan, David Khechoyan, Surya Rednam, Chester J. Koh and Andrew Jea

Neurofibrosarcoma is rare in the pediatric age group. A malignant tumor of the sacrum presents significant challenges, especially if the goals are to resect with wide and clean surgical margins and to achieve acceptable functional outcomes. The authors report a case of this rare tumor affecting the sacrum and sacral nerve roots of a 7-year-old girl and review the role of total hemisacrectomy sparing the contralateral sacral nerve roots and lumbopelvic reconstruction in the treatment of this disease. This patient is, to the best of the authors' knowledge, the youngest to be treated in this manner.

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Aditya Vedantam, Daniel Hansen, Valentina Briceño, Alison Brayton and Andrew Jea

OBJECTIVE

There is limited literature on patient-reported outcomes (PROs) and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) outcomes in pediatric patients undergoing surgery for craniovertebral junction pathology. The aim of the present study was to assess surgical and quality of life outcomes in children who had undergone occipitocervical or atlantoaxial fusion.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed the demographics, procedural data, and outcomes of 77 consecutive pediatric patients who underwent posterior occipitocervical or atlantoaxial fusion between 2008 and 2015 at Texas Children's Hospital. Outcome measures (collected at last follow-up) included mortality, neurological improvement, complications, Scoliosis Research Society Outcomes Measure–22 (SRS-22) score, SF-36 score, Neck Disability Index (NDI), and Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory (PedsQL). Multivariate linear regression analysis was performed to identify factors affecting PROs and HRQOL scores at follow-up.

RESULTS

The average age in this series was 10.6 ± 4.5 years. The median follow-up was 13.9 months (range 0.5–121.5 months). Sixty-three patients (81.8%) were treated with occipitocervical fusion, and 14 patients (18.1%) were treated with atlantoaxial fusion. The American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) grade at discharge was unchanged in 73 patients (94.8%). The average PRO metrics at the time of last follow-up were as follows: SRS-22 score, 4.2 ± 0.8; NDI, 3.0 ± 2.6; the parent's PedsQL (ParentPedsQL) score, 69.6 ± 22.7, and child's PedsQL score, 75.5 ± 18.7. Multivariate linear regression analysis revealed that older age at surgery was significantly associated with lower SRS-22 scores at follow-up (B = −0.06, p = 0.03), and the presence of comorbidities was associated with poorer ParentPedsQL scores at follow-up (B = −19.68, p = 0.03).

CONCLUSIONS

This study indicates that occipitocervical and atlantoaxial fusions in children preserve neurological function and are associated with acceptable PROs and ParentPedsQL scores, considering the serious nature and potential for morbidity in this patient population. However, longer follow-up and disease-specific scales are necessary to fully elucidate the impact of occipitocervical and atlantoaxial fusions on children.