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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

OBJECTIVE

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.

METHODS

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.

RESULTS

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.

CONCLUSIONS

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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Arman Jahangiri, Annette M. Molinaro, Phiroz E. Tarapore, Lewis Blevins Jr., Kurtis I. Auguste, Nalin Gupta, Sandeep Kunwar, and Manish K. Aghi

Object

Rathke cleft cysts (RCC) are benign sellar lesions most often found in adults, and more infrequently in children. They are generally asymptomatic but sometimes require surgical treatment through a transsphenoidal corridor. The purpose of this study was to compare adult versus pediatric cases of RCC.

Methods

The authors retrospectively reviewed presenting symptoms, MR imaging findings, laboratory study results, and pathological findings in 147 adult and 14 pediatric patients who underwent surgery for treatment of RCCs at the University of Californial at San Francisco between 1996 and 2008.

Results

In both the adult and pediatric groups, most patients were female (78% of adults, 79% of pediatric patients, p = 0.9). Headache was the most common symptom in both groups (reported by 50% of pediatric patients and 33% of adults, p = 0.2). Preoperative hypopituitarism occurred in 41% of adults and 45% of pediatric patients (p = 0.8). Growth delay, a uniquely pediatric finding, was a presenting sign in 29% of pediatric patients. Visual complaints were a presenting symptom in 16% of adult and 7% of pediatric patients (p = 0.4). There was no difference between median cyst size in adults versus pediatric patients (1.2 cm in both, p = 0.7). Temporary or permanent postoperative diabetes insipidus occurred in 12% of adults and 21% of pediatric patients (p = 0.4). Kaplan-Meier analysis revealed an 8% RCC recurrence rate at 2 years for each group (p = 0.5).

Conclusions

The incidence of RCCs is much lower in the pediatric population; however, symptoms, imaging findings, and outcomes are similar, suggesting that pediatric RCCs arise from growth of remnants of the embryonic Rathke pouch earlier in life than adult RCCs but do not differ in any other way. It is important to consider RCCs in the differential diagnosis when pediatric patients present with visual impairment, unexplained headache, or hypopituitarism including growth delay. Although the average RCC size was similar in our pediatric and adult patient groups, the smaller size of the pituitary gland in pediatric patients suggests an increased relative RCC size.