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David D. Gonda, Jared Fridley, Sheila L. Ryan, Valentina Briceño, Sandi K. Lam, MD MBA, Thomas G. Luerssen and Andrew Jea

OBJECT

Low-molecular-weight heparins (LMWHs), mainly enoxaparin, offer several advantages over standard anticoagulation therapies such as unfractionated heparin and warfarin, including predictable pharmacokinetics, minimal monitoring, and subcutaneous administration. The purpose of this study was to determine the safety and efficacy of LMWHs in pediatric neurosurgical patients.

METHODS

A retrospective study was performed with patients 18 years old or younger who were admitted to the Pediatric Neurosurgery Service at Texas Children's Hospital and treated with LMWH for either therapeutic or prophylactic purposes between March 1, 2011, and December 30, 2013. Demographic and clinical features and outcomes were recorded.

RESULTS

LMWH was administered for treatment of venous thromboembolic events (VTEs) in 17 children and for prophylaxis in 24 children. Clinical resolution of VTEs occurred in 100% (17 of 17) of patients receiving therapeutic doses of LMWH. No patient receiving prophylactic doses of LMWH developed a new VTE. Major or minor bleeding complications occurred in 18% (3 of 17 children) and 4% (1 of 24 children) of those receiving therapeutic and prophylactic doses, respectively. All 4 patients who experienced hemorrhagic complications had other bleeding risk factors—i.e., coagulopathies and antiplatelet medications.

CONCLUSIONS

LMWH seems to be safe and efficacious for both management and prophylaxis of VTEs in pediatric neurosurgery. However, pediatric practitioners should be aware of higher risk for bleeding complications with increasing doses of LMWH, especially in patients with preexisting bleeding disorders or concurrent use of antiplatelet agents.

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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.