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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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Michael C. Dewan, Jaims Lim, Stephen R. Gannon, David Heaner, Matthew C. Davis, Brandy Vaughn, Joshua J. Chern, Brandon G. Rocque, Paul Klimo Jr., John C. Wellons III and Robert P. Naftel

OBJECTIVE

It has been suggested that the treatment of infant hydrocephalus results in different craniometric changes depending upon whether ventriculoperitoneal shunt (VPS) placement or endoscopic third ventriculostomy with choroid plexus cauterization (ETV/CPC) is performed. Without an objective and quantitative description of expected changes to the infant cranium and ventricles following ETV/CPC, asserting successful treatment of hydrocephalus is difficult. By comparing infants successfully treated via ETV/CPC or VPS surgery, the authors of this study aimed to define the expected postoperative cranial and ventricular alterations at the time of clinical follow-up.

METHODS

Patients who underwent successful treatment of hydrocephalus at 4 institutions with either VPS placement or ETV/CPC were matched in a 3:1 ratio on the basis of age and etiology. Commonly used cranial parameters (including head circumference [HC], HC z-score, fontanelle status, and frontooccipital horn ratio [FOHR]) were compared pre- and postoperatively between treatment cohorts. First, baseline preoperative values were compared to ensure cohort equivalence. Next, postoperative metrics, including the relative change in metrics, were compared between treatment groups using multivariate linear regression.

RESULTS

Across 4 institutions, 18 ETV/CPC-treated and 54 VPS-treated infants with hydrocephalus were matched and compared at 6 months postoperatively. The most common etiologies of hydrocephalus were myelomeningocele (61%), followed by congenital communicating hydrocephalus (17%), aqueductal stenosis (11%), and intraventricular hemorrhage (6%). The mean age at the time of CSF diversion was similar between ETV/CPC- and VPS-treated patients (3.4 vs 2.9 months; p = 0.69), as were all preoperative cranial hydrocephalus metrics (p > 0.05). Postoperatively, the ventricle size FOHR decreased significantly more following VPS surgery (−0.15) than following ETV/CPC (−0.02) (p < 0.001), yielding a lower postoperative FOHR in the VPS arm (0.42 vs 0.51; p = 0.01). The HC percentile was greater in the ETV/CPC cohort than in the VPS-treated patients (76th vs 54th percentile; p = 0.046). A significant difference in the postoperative z-score was not observed. With both treatment modalities, a bulging fontanelle reliably normalized at last follow-up.

CONCLUSIONS

Clinical and radiographic parameters following successful treatment of hydrocephalus in infants differed between ETV/CPC and VPS treatment. At 6 months post-ETV/CPC, ventricle size remained unchanged, whereas VPS-treated ventricles decreased to a near-normal FOHR. The HC growth control between the procedures was similar, although the final HC percentile may be lower after VPS. The fontanelle remained a reliable indicator of success for both treatments. This study establishes expected cranial and ventricular parameters following ETV/CPC, which may be used to guide preoperative counseling and postoperative decision making.

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Tamara D. Simon, Matthew P. Kronman, Kathryn B. Whitlock, Nancy E. Gove, Nicole Mayer-Hamblett, Samuel R. Browd, D. Douglas Cochrane, Richard Holubkov, Abhaya V. Kulkarni, Marcie Langley, David D. Limbrick Jr., Thomas G. Luerssen, W. Jerry Oakes, Jay Riva-Cambrin, Curtis Rozzelle, Chevis Shannon, Mandeep Tamber, John C. Wellons III, William E. Whitehead and John R. W. Kestle

OBJECTIVE

CSF shunt infection requires both surgical and antibiotic treatment. Surgical treatment includes either total shunt removal with external ventricular drain (EVD) placement followed by new shunt insertion, or distal shunt externalization followed by new shunt insertion once the CSF is sterile. Antibiotic treatment includes the administration of intravenous antibiotics. The Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network (HCRN) registry provides a unique opportunity to understand reinfection following treatment for CSF shunt infection. This study examines the association of surgical and antibiotic decisions in the treatment of first CSF shunt infection with reinfection.

METHODS

A prospective cohort study of children undergoing treatment for first CSF infection at 7 HCRN hospitals from April 2008 to December 2012 was performed. The HCRN consensus definition was used to define CSF shunt infection and reinfection. The key surgical predictor variable was surgical approach to treatment for CSF shunt infection, and the key antibiotic treatment predictor variable was intravenous antibiotic selection and duration. Cox proportional hazards models were constructed to address the time-varying nature of the characteristics associated with shunt surgeries.

RESULTS

Of 233 children in the HCRN registry with an initial CSF shunt infection during the study period, 38 patients (16%) developed reinfection over a median time of 44 days (interquartile range [IQR] 19–437). The majority of initial CSF shunt infections were treated with total shunt removal and EVD placement (175 patients; 75%). The median time between infection surgeries was 15 days (IQR 10–22). For the subset of 172 infections diagnosed by CSF culture, the mean ± SD duration of antibiotic treatment was 18.7 ± 12.8 days. In all Cox proportional hazards models, neither surgical approach to infection treatment nor overall intravenous antibiotic duration was independently associated with reinfection. The only treatment decision independently associated with decreased infection risk was the use of rifampin. While this finding did not achieve statistical significance, in all 5 Cox proportional hazards models both surgical approach (other than total shunt removal at initial CSF shunt infection) and nonventriculoperitoneal shunt location were consistently associated with a higher hazard of reinfection, while the use of ultrasound was consistently associated with a lower hazard of reinfection.

CONCLUSIONS

Neither surgical approach to treatment nor antibiotic duration was associated with reinfection risk. While these findings did not achieve statistical significance, surgical approach other than total removal at initial CSF shunt infection was consistently associated with a higher hazard of reinfection in this study and suggests the feasibility of controlling and standardizing the surgical approach (shunt removal with EVD placement). Considerably more variation and equipoise exists in the duration and selection of intravenous antibiotic treatment. Further consideration should be given to the use of rifampin in the treatment of CSF shunt infection. High-quality studies of the optimal duration of antibiotic treatment are critical to the creation of evidence-based guidelines for CSF shunt infection treatment.

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Abhaya V. Kulkarni, Jay Riva-Cambrin, Curtis J. Rozzelle, Robert P. Naftel, Jessica S. Alvey, Ron W. Reeder, Richard Holubkov, Samuel R. Browd, D. Douglas Cochrane, David D. Limbrick Jr., Tamara D. Simon, Mandeep Tamber, John C. Wellons III, William E. Whitehead and John R. W. Kestle

OBJECTIVE

High-quality data comparing endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) with choroid plexus cauterization (CPC) to shunt and ETV alone in North America are greatly lacking. To address this, the Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network (HCRN) conducted a prospective study of ETV+CPC in infants. Here, these prospective data are presented and compared to prospectively collected data from a historical cohort of infants treated with shunt or ETV alone.

METHODS

From June 2014 to September 2015, infants (corrected age ≤ 24 months) requiring treatment for hydrocephalus with anatomy suitable for ETV+CPC were entered into a prospective study at 9 HCRN centers. The rate of procedural failure (i.e., the need for repeat hydrocephalus surgery, hydrocephalus-related death, or major postoperative neurological deficit) was determined. These data were compared with a cohort of similar infants who were treated with either a shunt (n = 969) or ETV alone (n = 74) by creating matched pairs on the basis of age and etiology. These data were obtained from the existing prospective HCRN Core Data Project. All patients were observed for at least 6 months.

RESULTS

A total of 118 infants underwent ETV+CPC (median corrected age 1.3 months; common etiologies including myelomeningocele [30.5%], intraventricular hemorrhage of prematurity [22.9%], and aqueductal stenosis [21.2%]). The 6-month success rate was 36%. The most common complications included seizures (5.1%) and CSF leak (3.4%). Important predictors of treatment success in the survival regression model included older age (p = 0.002), smaller preoperative ventricle size (p = 0.009), and greater degree of CPC (p = 0.02). The matching algorithm resulted in 112 matched pairs for ETV+CPC versus shunt alone and 34 matched pairs for ETV+CPC versus ETV alone. ETV+CPC was found to have significantly higher failure rate than shunt placement (p < 0.001). Although ETV+CPC had a similar failure rate compared with ETV alone (p = 0.73), the matched pairs included mostly infants with aqueductal stenosis and miscellaneous other etiologies but very few patients with intraventricular hemorrhage of prematurity.

CONCLUSIONS

Within a large and broad cohort of North American infants, our data show that overall ETV+CPC appears to have a higher failure rate than shunt alone. Although the ETV+CPC results were similar to ETV alone, this comparison was limited by the small sample size and skewed etiological distribution. Within the ETV+CPC group, greater extent of CPC was associated with treatment success, thereby suggesting that there are subgroups who might benefit from the addition of CPC. Further work will focus on identifying these subgroups.

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Silky Chotai, Bradley S. Guidry, Emily W. Chan, Katherine D. Sborov, Stephen Gannon, Chevis Shannon, Christopher M. Bonfield, John C. Wellons III and Robert P. Naftel

OBJECTIVE

Readmission and return to operating room after surgery are increasingly being used as a proxy for quality of care. Nearly 60% of these readmissions are unplanned, which translates into billions of dollars in health care costs. The authors set out to analyze the incidence of readmission at their center, to define causes of unplanned readmission, and to determine the preoperative and surgical variables associated with readmissions following pediatric neurosurgery.

METHODS

A total of 536 children who underwent operations for neurosurgical diagnoses between 2012 and 2015 and who were later readmitted were included in the final analysis. Unplanned readmissions were defined to have occurred as a result of complications within 90 days after index surgery. Patient records were retrospectively reviewed to determine the primary diagnosis, surgery indication, and cause of readmission and return to operating room. The cost for index hospitalization, readmission episode, and total cost were derived based on the charges obtained from administrative data. Bivariate and multivariable analyses were conducted.

RESULTS

Of 536 patients readmitted in total, 17.9% (n = 96) were readmitted within 90 days. Of the overall readmissions, 11.9% (n = 64) were readmitted within 30 days, and 5.97% (n = 32) were readmitted between 31 and 90 days. The median duration between discharge and readmission was 20 days (first quartile [Q1]: 9 days, third quartile [Q3]: 36 days). The most common reason for readmission was shunt related (8.2%, n = 44), followed by wound infection (4.7%, n = 25). In the risk-adjusted multivariable logistic regression model for total 90-day readmission, patients with the following characteristics: younger age (p = 0.001, OR 0.886, 95% CI 0.824–0.952); “other” (nonwhite, nonblack) race (p = 0.024, OR 5.49, 95% CI 1.246–24.2); and those born preterm (p = 0.032, OR 2.1, 95% CI 1.1–4.12) had higher odds of being readmitted within 90 days after discharge. The total median cost for patients undergoing surgery in this study cohort was $11,520 (Q1: $7103, Q3: $19,264). For the patients who were readmitted, the median cost for a readmission episode was $8981 (Q1: $5051, Q3: $18,713).

CONCLUSIONS

Unplanned 90-day readmissions in pediatric neurosurgery are primarily due to CSF-related complications. Patients with the following characteristics: young age at presentation; “other” race; and children born preterm have a higher likelihood of being readmitted within 90 days after surgery. The median cost was > $8000, which suggests that the readmission episode can be as expensive as the index hospitalization. Clearly, readmission reduction has the potential for significant cost savings in pediatric neurosurgery. Future efforts, such as targeted education related to complication signs, should be considered in the attempt to reduce unplanned events. Given the single-center, retrospective study design, the results of this study are primarily applicable to this population and cannot necessarily be generalized to other institutions without further study.

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Abbas Rattani, Michael C. Dewan, Vickie Hannig, Robert P. Naftel, John C. Wellons III and Lori C. Jordan

The authors present a case of monozygotic twins with hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT) who experienced cerebral arteriovenous malformation (AVM) hemorrhage at a very young age. The clinical variables influencing HHT-related AVM rupture are discussed, and questions surrounding the timing of screening and intervention are explored. This is only the second known case of monozygotic HHT twins published in the medical literature, and the youngest pair of first-degree relatives to experience AVM-related cerebral hemorrhage. Evidence guiding the screening and management of familial HHT is lacking, and cases such as this underscore the need for objective and validated protocols.

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Nishit Mummareddy, Michael C. Dewan, Michael R. Mercier, Robert P. Naftel, John C. Wellons III and Christopher M. Bonfield

OBJECTIVE

The authors aimed to provide an updated and consolidated report on the epidemiology, management, and functional outcome of cases of myelomeningocele (MMC) in patients with scoliosis.

METHODS

A comprehensive literature search was performed using MEDLINE, Embase, Google Scholar, and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews on cases of MMC in patients with scoliosis between 1980 and 2016. The initial search yielded 670 reports. After removing duplicates and applying inclusion criteria, we included 32 full-text original articles in this study.

RESULTS

Pooled statistical analysis of the included articles revealed the prevalence of scoliosis in MMC patients to be 53% (95% CI 0.42–0.64). Slightly more females (56%) are affected with both MMC and scoliosis than males. Motor level appears to be a significant predictor of prevalence, but not severity, of scoliosis in MMC patients. Treatment options for these patients include tethered cord release (TCR) and fusion surgeries. Curvature improvement and stabilization after TCR may be limited to patients with milder (< 50°) curves. Meanwhile, more aggressive fusion procedures such as a combined anterior-posterior approach may result in more favorable long-term scoliosis correction, albeit with greater complication rates. Quality of life metrics including ambulatory status and sitting stability are influenced by motor level of the lesion as well as the degree of the scoliosis curvature.

CONCLUSIONS

Scoliosis is among the most common and challenging comorbidities from which patients with MMC suffer. Although important epidemiological and management trends are evident, larger, prospective studies are needed to discover ways to more accurately counsel and more optimally treat these patients.

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John C. Wellons III, Chevis N. Shannon, Richard Holubkov, Jay Riva-Cambrin, Abhaya V. Kulkarni, David D. Limbrick Jr., William Whitehead, Samuel Browd, Curtis Rozzelle, Tamara D. Simon, Mandeep S. Tamber, W. Jerry Oakes, James Drake, Thomas G. Luerssen, John Kestle and For the Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network

OBJECTIVE

Previous Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network (HCRN) retrospective studies have shown a 15% difference in rates of conversion to permanent shunts with the use of ventriculosubgaleal shunts (VSGSs) versus ventricular reservoirs (VRs) as temporization procedures in the treatment of hydrocephalus due to high-grade intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH) of prematurity. Further research in the same study line revealed a strong influence of center-specific decision-making on shunt outcomes. The primary goal of this prospective study was to standardize decision-making across centers to determine true procedural superiority, if any, of VSGS versus VR as a temporization procedure in high-grade IVH of prematurity.

METHODS

The HCRN conducted a prospective cohort study across 6 centers with an approximate 1.5- to 3-year accrual period (depending on center) followed by 6 months of follow-up. Infants with premature birth, who weighed less than 1500 g, had Grade 3 or 4 IVH of prematurity, and had more than 72 hours of life expectancy were included in the study. Based on a priori consensus, decisions were standardized regarding the timing of initial surgical treatment, upfront shunt versus temporization procedure (VR or VSGS), and when to convert a VR or VSGS to a permanent shunt. Physical examination assessment and surgical technique were also standardized. The primary outcome was the proportion of infants who underwent conversion to a permanent shunt. The major secondary outcomes of interest included infection and other complication rates.

RESULTS

One hundred forty-five premature infants were enrolled and met criteria for analysis. Using the standardized decision rubrics, 28 infants never reached the threshold for treatment, 11 initially received permanent shunts, 4 were initially treated with endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV), and 102 underwent a temporization procedure (36 with VSGSs and 66 with VRs). The 2 temporization cohorts were similar in terms of sex, race, IVH grade, head (orbitofrontal) circumference, and ventricular size at temporization. There were statistically significant differences noted between groups in gestational age, birth weight, and bilaterality of clot burden that were controlled for in post hoc analysis. By Kaplan-Meier analysis, the 180-day rates of conversion to permanent shunts were 63.5% for VSGS and 74.0% for VR (p = 0.36, log-rank test). The infection rate for VSGS was 14% (5/36) and for VR was 17% (11/66; p = 0.71). The overall compliance rate with the standardized decision rubrics was noted to be 90% for all surgeons.

CONCLUSIONS

A standardized protocol was instituted across all centers of the HCRN. Compliance was high. Choice of temporization techniques in premature infants with IVH does not appear to influence rates of conversion to permanent ventricular CSF diversion. Once management decisions and surgical techniques are standardized across HCRN sites, thus minimizing center effect, the observed difference in conversion rates between VSGSs and VRs is mitigated.

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Michael C. Dewan, Jaims Lim, Chevis N. Shannon and John C. Wellons III

OBJECTIVE

Up to one-third of patients with a posterior fossa brain tumor (PFBT) will experience persistent hydrocephalus mandating permanent CSF diversion. The optimal hydrocephalus treatment modality is unknown; the authors sought to compare the durability between endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) and ventriculoperitoneal shunt (VPS) therapy in the pediatric population.

METHODS

The authors conducted a systematic review of articles indexed in PubMed between 1986 and 2016 describing ETV and/or VPS treatment success/failure and time-to-failure rate in patients < 19 years of age with hydrocephalus related to a PFBT. Additionally, the authors conducted a retrospective review of their institutional series of PFBT patients requiring CSF diversion. Patient data from the systematic review and from the institutional series were aggregated and a time-to-failure analysis was performed comparing ETV and VPS using the Kaplan-Meier method.

RESULTS

A total of 408 patients were included from 12 studies and the authors' institutional series: 284 who underwent ETV and 124 who underwent VPS placement. The analysis included uncontrolled studies with variable method and timing of CSF diversion and were subject to surgeon bias. No significant differences between cohorts were observed with regard to age, sex, tumor grade or histology, metastatic status, or extent of resection. The cumulative failure rate of ETV was 21%, whereas that of VPS surgery was 29% (p = 0.105). The median time to failure was earlier for ETV than for VPS surgery (0.82 [IQR 0.2–1.8] vs 4.7 months [IQR 0.3–5.7], p = 0.03). Initially the ETV survival curve dropped sharply and then stabilized around 2 months. The VPS curve fell gradually but eventually crossed below the ETV curve at 5.7 months. Overall, a significant survival advantage was not demonstrated for one procedure over the other (p = 0.21, log-rank). However, postoperative complications were higher following VPS (31%) than ETV (17%) (p = 0.012).

CONCLUSIONS

ETV failure occurred sooner than VPS failure, but long-term treatment durability may be higher for ETV. Complications occurred more commonly with VPS than with ETV. Limited clinical conclusions are drawn using this methodology; the optimal treatment for PFBT-related hydrocephalus warrants investigation through prospective studies.

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William E. Whitehead, Jay Riva-Cambrin, Abhaya V. Kulkarni, John C. Wellons III, Curtis J. Rozzelle, Mandeep S. Tamber, David D. Limbrick Jr., Samuel R. Browd, Robert P. Naftel, Chevis N. Shannon, Tamara D. Simon, Richard Holubkov, Anna Illner, D. Douglas Cochrane, James M. Drake, Thomas G. Luerssen, W. Jerry Oakes and John R. W. Kestle

OBJECTIVE

Accurate placement of ventricular catheters may result in prolonged shunt survival, but the best target for the hole-bearing segment of the catheter has not been rigorously defined. The goal of the study was to define a target within the ventricle with the lowest risk of shunt failure.

METHODS

Five catheter placement variables (ventricular catheter tip location, ventricular catheter tip environment, relationship to choroid plexus, catheter tip holes within ventricle, and crosses midline) were defined, assessed for interobserver agreement, and evaluated for their effect on shunt survival in univariate and multivariate analyses. De-identified subjects from the Shunt Design Trial, the Endoscopic Shunt Insertion Trial, and a Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network study on ultrasound-guided catheter placement were combined (n = 858 subjects, all first-time shunt insertions, all patients < 18 years old). The first postoperative brain imaging study was used to determine ventricular catheter placement for each of the catheter placement variables.

RESULTS

Ventricular catheter tip location, environment, catheter tip holes within the ventricle, and crosses midline all achieved sufficient interobserver agreement (κ > 0.60). In the univariate survival analysis, however, only ventricular catheter tip location was useful in distinguishing a target within the ventricle with a survival advantage (frontal horn; log-rank, p = 0.0015). None of the other catheter placement variables yielded a significant survival advantage unless they were compared with catheter tips completely not in the ventricle. Cox regression analysis was performed, examining ventricular catheter tip location with age, etiology, surgeon, decade of surgery, and catheter entry site (anterior vs posterior). Only age (p < 0.001) and entry site (p = 0.005) were associated with shunt survival; ventricular catheter tip location was not (p = 0.37). Anterior entry site lowered the risk of shunt failure compared with posterior entry site by approximately one-third (HR 0.65, 95% CI 0.51–0.83).

CONCLUSIONS

This analysis failed to identify an ideal target within the ventricle for the ventricular catheter tip. Unexpectedly, the choice of an anterior versus posterior catheter entry site was more important in determining shunt survival than the location of the ventricular catheter tip within the ventricle. Entry site may represent a modifiable risk factor for shunt failure, but, due to inherent limitations in study design and previous clinical research on entry site, a randomized controlled trial is necessary before treatment recommendations can be made.