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Meng Huang, David D. Gonda, Valentina Briceño, Sandi K. Lam, Thomas G. Luerssen and Andrew Jea

Upper airway obstruction resulting from overflexion of the craniocervical junction after occipitocervical fusion is a rare but potentially life-threatening complication and is associated with morbidity. The authors retrospectively reviewed the medical records and diagnostic images of 2 pediatrie patients who underwent occipitocervical fusion by the Neuro-Spine Program at Texas Children’s Hospital and experienced dyspnea and/or dysphagia from new upper airway obstruction in the postoperative period. Patient demographics, operative data, and preoperative and postoperative occiput-C2 angles were recorded. A review of the literature for similar complications after occipitocervical fusion was performed. A total of 13 cases of prolonged upper airway obstruction after occipitocervical fusion were analyzed. Most of these cases involved adults with rheumatoid arthritis. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, there have been no previous reports of prolonged upper airway obstruction in children after an occipitocervical fusion. Fixation of the neck in increased flexion (−18° to −5°) was a common finding among these adult and pediatrie cases. The authors’ cases involved children with micrognathia and comparatively large tongues, which may predispose the oropharynx to obstruction with even the slightest amount of increased flexion. Close attention to a satisfactory fixation angle (occiput-C2 angle) is necessary to avoid airway obstruction after an occipitocervical fusion. Children with micrognathia are particularly sensitive to changes in flexion at the craniocervical junction after occipitocervical fixation.

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Sohum K. Desai, Christina Sayama, Daniel Vener, Alison Brayton, Valentina Briceño, Thomas G. Luerssen and Andrew Jea

OBJECT

The authors have previously reported on their early experience with sublaminar polyester bands in spine surgery. In this paper, the authors describe the use of sublaminar polyester bands in long-segment posterior instrumented spinal fusions from the upper thoracic spine to the ilium in 21 children and transitional adults with progressive neuromuscular scoliosis. Transitional adults were patients older than 18 years of age with a spinal disorder of pediatric onset, such as spina bifida. This dedicated study represents the first reported use of polyester bands in spine surgery for neuromuscular scoliosis in this patient population in the US.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed the demographics and procedural data of patients who underwent posterior instrumented fusion using sublaminar polyester bands for neuromuscular scoliosis.

RESULTS

Twenty-one pediatric and adult transitional patients, ranging in age from 10 to 20 years (mean 14 years), underwent posterior instrumented fusion for progressive neuromuscular scoliosis. The average coronal Cobb angle measured 66° before surgery (range 37°–125°). Immediately after surgery, the mean coronal Cobb angle was 40° (range 13°–85°). At last follow-up, the average coronal Cobb angle was maintained at 42° (range 5°–112°). Regarding sagittal parameters, thoracic kyphosis was restored by 8%, and lumbar lordosis improved by 20% after surgery. Mean follow-up duration was 17 months (range 2–54 months). One patient with an aborted procedure due to loss of intraoperative evoked potentials was excluded from the analysis of radiographic outcomes. Mean surgical time was 7 hours 43 minutes (range 3 hours 59 minutes to 10 hours 23 minutes). All patients received either a 12- or 24-mg dose of recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein–2. Average estimated blood loss was 976 ml (range 300–2700 ml). Complications directly related to the use of sublaminar instrumentation included transient proprioceptive deficit (1 patient) and prolonged paraparesis (1 patient). Other complications noted in this series included disengagement of the rod from an iliac screw (1 patient), proximal junctional kyphosis (1 patient), noninfected wound drainage (2 patients), and perioperative death (1 patient). The lessons learned from these complications are discussed.

CONCLUSIONS

Pedicle screws, laminar/pedicle/transverse process hooks, and sublaminar metal wires have been incorporated into posterior spinal constructs and widely reported and used in the thoracic and lumbar spines and sacrum with varying success. This report demonstrates the satisfactory radiological outcomes of hybrid posterior spinal constructs in pediatric and adult neuromuscular scoliosis that include sublaminar polyester bands that promise the technical ease of passing sublaminar instrumentation with the immediate biomechanical rigidity of pedicle screws and hooks. However, the high neurological complication rate associated with this technique (2/21, or 10%) tempers the acceptable radiographic outcomes.

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Loyola V. Gressot, Javier A. Mata, Thomas G. Luerssen and Andrew Jea

Spondyloptosis refers to complete dislocation of a vertebral body onto another. The L5–S1 level is frequently affected. As this condition is rare, few published reports describing its clinical features and surgical outcomes exist, especially in the pediatric patient population.

The authors report the presentation, pathological findings, and radiographic studies of a 2-year-old girl who presented to Texas Children's Hospital with a history since birth of progressive spastic paraparesis. Preoperative CT and MRI showed severe spinal cord compression associated with T11–12 spondyloptosis. The patient underwent a single-stage posterior approach for complete resection of the dysplastic vertebral bodies at the apex of the spinal deformity with reconstruction and stabilization of the vertebral column using a titanium expandable cage and pedicle screws. At the 12-month follow-up, the patient remained neurologically stable without any radiographic evidence of instrumentation failure or loss of alignment.

To the best of the authors' knowledge, there have been only 2 other children with congenital thoracolumbar spondyloptosis treated with the above-described strategy. The authors describe their case and review the literature to discuss the aggregate clinical features, surgical strategies, and operative outcomes for congenital thoracolumbar spondyloptosis.

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Christina Sayama, Sudhakar Vadivelu, Andrew Livingston, Allen Ho, Shayan A. Izaddoost, Valentina Briceño, Thomas G. Luerssen and Andrew Jea

Object

Wound-related complications following complex posterior spine procedures in children may result in the need for serial debridements and may place spinal instrumentation at risk. In this study, the authors review their experience with the management of soft-tissue defects from spinal instrumentation in 5 high-risk pediatric patients. The use of various rotational and transpositional flaps in the management of these complicated cases is discussed, as well as their outcomes.

Methods

The authors retrospectively reviewed the medical records of 5 patients who returned to the Neuro-Spine service at Texas Children's Hospital for erosion of spinal instrumentation through the skin between September 1, 2007, and October 31, 2012. Patient demographics and clinical and operative data were recorded.

Results

Risk factors such as young age (1 case), poor nutritional status (1 case), multiple previous surgeries (3 cases), severe neurological deficits (2 cases), and history of radiation therapy for malignancy (2 cases) were noted in the 5 patients. The paraspinous flap (4 cases) was the mainstay of the treatment. Follow-up ranged from 7.5 to 17.5 months (mean 11 ± 4.2 months). One of the patients required more than 1 procedure for revision of the wound. Cultures were positive in 2 of the 5 cases. Spinal instrumentation was removed in 3 of the 5 cases; however, in all 3 of the cases there was evidence of delayed instability that developed after the removal of spinal instrumentation.

Conclusions

The use of local tissue flaps is safe and efficacious for treatment of posterior wound complications due to spinal instrumentation in children. Removal of spinal instrumentation should be avoided due to the development of delayed instability. Highly vascularized tissue is used to speed healing, clear bacteria, and eliminate dead space, obviating the need to remove contaminated spinal instrumentation.

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Sandi K. Lam, Visish M. Srinivasan, Thomas G. Luerssen and I-Wen Pan

Object

There have been no large-scale analyses on cost drivers in CSF shunt surgery for the treatment of pediatric hydrocephalus. The objective of this study was to develop a cost model for hospitalization costs in pediatric CSF shunt surgery and to examine risk factors for increased costs.

Methods

Data were extracted from the Kids' Inpatient Database (KID) of the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project. Children with initial CSF shunt placement in the 2009 KID were examined. Patient charge was converted to cost using a cost-to-charge ratio. The factors associated with costs of CSF shunt hospitalizations were examined, including patient demographics, hospital characteristics, and clinical data. The natural log transformation of cost per inpatient day (CoPID) was analyzed. Three multivariate linear regression models were used to characterize the cost. Variance inflation factor was used to identify multicollinearity for each model.

Results

A total of 2519 patients met the inclusion criteria and were included in study. Average cost and length of stay (LOS) for initial shunt placement were $49,317 ± $74,483 (US) and 18.2 ± 28.5 days, respectively. Cost per inpatient day was $4249 ± $2837 (median $3397, range $80–$22,263). The average number of registered nurse (RN) full-time equivalents (FTEs) per 1000 adjusted inpatient days was 5.8 (range 1.6–10.8). The final model had the highest adjusted coefficient of determination (R2 = 0.32) and was determined to be the best among 3 models. The final model showed that child age, hydrocephalus etiology, weekend admission, number of chronic diseases, hospital type, number of RN FTEs per 1000 adjusted inpatient days, number of procedures, race, insurance type, income level, and hospital regions were associated with CoPID.

Conclusions

A patient's socioeconomic status, such as race, income level, and insurance, in addition to hospitalrelated factors such as number of hospital RN FTEs, hospital type, and US region, could affect the costs of initial CSF shunt placement, in addition to clinical factors such as hydrocephalus origin and LOS. To create a cost model of initial CSF shunt placement in the pediatric population, consideration of such nonclinical factors may be warranted.

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Sandi Lam, Thomas G. Luerssen, William E. Whitehead, Andrew Jea and I-Wen Pan

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Sandi K. Lam, Christina Sayama, Dominic A. Harris, Valentina Briceño, Thomas G. Luerssen and Andrew Jea

Object

Current national patterns as a function of patient-, hospital-, and procedure-related factors, and complication rates in the use of recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein–2 (rhBMP-2) as an adjunct to the practice of pediatric spine surgery have scarcely been investigated.

Methods

The authors conducted a cross-sectional study using data from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Kids' Inpatient Database. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression were used to calculate unadjusted and adjusted odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals, and p values < 0.05 were considered to be statistically significant.

Results

The authors identified 9538 hospitalizations in pediatric patients 20 years old or younger who had undergone spinal fusion in the US in 2009; 1541 of these admissions were associated with rhBMP-2 use. By multivariate logistic regression, the following factors were associated with rhBMP-2 use: patient age 15–20 years; length of hospital stay (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 1.01, p = 0.017); insurance status (private [aOR 1.49, p < 0.001] compared with Medicaid); hospital type (nonchildren's hospital); region (Midwest [aOR 2.49, p = 0.008] compared with Northeast); spinal refusion (aOR 2.20, p < 0.001); spinal fusion approach/segment (anterior lumbar [aOR 1.73, p < 0.001] and occipitocervical [aOR 1.86, p = 0.013] compared with posterior lumbar); short segment length (aOR 1.42, p = 0.016) and midlength (aOR 1.44, p = 0.005) compared with long; and preoperative diagnosis (Scheuermann kyphosis [aOR 1.56, p < 0.017] and spondylolisthesis [aOR 1.93, p < 0.001]).

Conclusions

Use of BMP in pediatric spine procedures now comprises more than 10% of pediatric spinal fusion. Patient-related (age, insurance type, diagnosis); hospital-related (children's hospital vs general hospital, region in the US); and procedure-related (redo fusion, anterior vs posterior approach, spinal levels, number of levels fused) factors are associated with the variation in BMP use in the US.

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Sheila L. Ryan, Anish Sen, Kristen Staggers, Thomas G. Luerssen and Andrew Jea

Object

Quality improvement methods are being implemented in various areas of medicine. In an effort to reduce the complex (instrumented) spine infection rate in pediatric patients, a standardized protocol was developed and implemented at an institution with a high case volume of instrumented spine fusion procedures in the pediatric age group.

Methods

Members of the Texas Children's Hospital Spine Study Group developed the protocol incrementally by using the current literature and prior institutional experience until consensus was obtained. The protocol was prospectively applied to all children undergoing complex spine surgery starting August 21, 2012. Acute infections were defined as positive wound cultures within 12 weeks of surgery, defined in alignment with current hospital infection control criteria. Procedures and infections were measured before and after protocol implementation. This protocol received full review and approval of the Baylor College of Medicine institutional review board.

Results

Nine spine surgeons performed 267 procedures between August 21, 2012, and September 30, 2013. The minimum follow-up was 12 weeks. The annual institutional infection rate prior to the protocol (2007–2011) ranged from 3.4% to 8.9%, with an average of 5.8%. After introducing the protocol, the infection rate decreased to 2.2% (6 infections of 267 cases) (p = 0.0362; absolute risk reduction 3.6%; relative risk 0.41 [95% CI 0.18–0.94]). Overall compliance with data form completion was 63.7%. In 4 of the 6 cases of infection, noncompliance with completion of the data collection form was documented; moreover, 2 of the 4 spine surgeons whose patients experienced infections had the lowest compliance rates in the study group.

Conclusions

The standardized protocol for complex spine surgery significantly reduced surgical site infection at the authors' institution. The overall compliance with entry into the protocol was good. Identification of factors associated with post–spine surgery wound infection will allow further protocol refinement in the future.

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William E. Whitehead, Jay Riva-Cambrin, John C. Wellons III, Abhaya V. Kulkarni, Samuel Browd, David Limbrick, Curtis Rozzelle, Mandeep S. Tamber, Tamara D. Simon, Chevis N. Shannon, Richard Holubkov, W. Jerry Oakes, Thomas G. Luerssen, Marion L. Walker, James M. Drake and John R. W. Kestle

Object

Shunt survival may improve when ventricular catheters are placed into the frontal horn or trigone of the lateral ventricle. However, techniques for accurate catheter placement have not been developed. The authors recently reported a prospective study designed to test the accuracy of catheter placement with the assistance of intraoperative ultrasound, but the results were poor (accurate placement in 59%). A major reason for the poor accurate placement rate was catheter movement that occurred between the time of the intraoperative ultrasound image and the first postoperative scan (33% of cases). The control group of non–ultrasound using surgeons also had a low rate of accurate placement (accurate placement in 49%). The authors conducted an exploratory post hoc analysis of patients in their ultrasound study to identify factors associated with either catheter movement or poor catheter placement so that improved surgical techniques for catheter insertion could be developed.

Methods

The authors investigated the following risk factors for catheter movement and poor catheter placement: age, ventricular size, cortical mantle thickness, surgeon experience, surgeon experience with ultrasound prior to trial, shunt entry site, shunt hardware at entry site, ventricular catheter length, and use of an ultrasound probe guide for catheter insertion. Univariate analysis followed by multivariate logistic regression models were used to determine which factors were independent risk factors for either catheter movement or inaccurate catheter location.

Results

In the univariate analyses, only age < 6 months was associated with catheter movement (p = 0.021); cortical mantle thickness < 1 cm was near-significant (p = 0.066). In a multivariate model, age remained significant after adjusting for cortical mantle thickness (OR 8.35, exact 95% CI 1.20–infinity). Univariate analyses of factors associated with inaccurate catheter placement showed that age < 6 months (p = 0.001) and a posterior shunt entry site (p = 0.021) were both associated with poor catheter placement. In a multivariate model, both age < 6 months and a posterior shunt entry site were independent risk factors for poor catheter placement (OR 4.54, 95% CI 1.80–11.42, and OR 2.59, 95% CI 1.14–5.89, respectively).

Conclusions

Catheter movement and inaccurate catheter placement are both more likely to occur in young patients (< 6 months). Inaccurate catheter placement is also more likely to occur in cases involving a posterior shunt entry site than those involving an anterior shunt entry site. Future clinical studies aimed at improving shunt placement techniques must consider the effects of young age and choice of entry site on catheter location.