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Daniel Hansen, Aditya Vedantam, Valentina Briceño, Sandi K. Lam, Thomas G. Luerssen and Andrew Jea

OBJECTIVE

The emphasis on health-related quality of life (HRQOL) outcomes is increasing, along with an emphasis on evidence-based medicine. However, there is a notable paucity of validated HRQOL instruments for the pediatric population. Furthermore, no standardization or consensus currently exists concerning which HRQOL outcome measures ought to be used in pediatric neurosurgery. The authors wished to identify HRQOL outcomes used in pediatric neurosurgery research over the past 10 years, their frequency, and usage trends.

METHODS

Three top pediatric neurosurgical journals were reviewed for the decade from 2005 to 2014 for clinical studies of pediatric neurosurgical procedures that report HRQOL outcomes. Similar studies in the peer-reviewed journal Pediatrics were also used as a benchmark. Publication year, level of evidence, and HRQOL outcomes were collected for each article.

RESULTS

A total of 31 HRQOL studies were published in the pediatric neurosurgical literature over the study period. By comparison, there were 55 such articles in Pediatrics. The number of publications using HRQOL instruments showed a significant positive trend over time for Pediatrics (B = 0.62, p = 0.02) but did not increase significantly over time for the 3 neurosurgical journals (B = 0.12, p = 0.5). The authors identified a total of 46 different HRQOL instruments used across all journals. Within the neurosurgical journals, the Hydrocephalus Outcome Questionnaire (HOQ) (24%) was the most frequently used, followed by the Health Utilities Index (HUI) (16%), the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory (PedsQL) (12%), and the 36-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) (12%). Of the 55 articles identified in Pediatrics, 22 (40%) used a version of the PedsQL. No neurosurgical study reached above Level 4 on the Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (OCEBM) system. However, multiple studies from Pediatrics achieved OCEBM Level 3, several were categorized as Level 2, and one reached Level 1.

CONCLUSIONS

The frequency of studies using HRQOL outcomes in pediatric neurosurgical research has not increased over the past 10 years. Within pediatric neurosurgery, high-quality studies and standardization are lacking, as compared with contemporary studies in Pediatrics. In general, although the HOQ, HUI, PedsQL, and SF-36 instruments are emerging as standards in pediatric neurosurgery, even greater standardization across the specialty is needed, along with the design and implementation of more rigorous studies.

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

OBJECT

In a previous study, the authors reported on their experience with the use of sublaminar polyester bands as part of segmental spinal constructs. However, the risk of neurological complications with sublaminar passage of instrumentation, such as spinal cord injury, limits the use of this technique. The present study reports the novel use of subtransverse process polyester bands in posterior instrumented spinal fusions of the thoracic and lumbar spines and sacrum or ilium in 4 patients.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed the demographic and procedural data of patients who had undergone posterior instrumented fusion using subtransverse process polyester bands.

RESULTS

Four patients, ranging in age from 11 to 22 years, underwent posterior instrumented fusion for neuromuscular scoliosis (3 patients) and thoracic hyperkyphosis (1 patient). There were 3 instances of transverse process fracture, with application and tensioning of the polyester band in 1 patient. Importantly, there was no instance of spinal cord injury with subtransverse process passage of the polyester band. The lessons learned from this technique are discussed.

CONCLUSIONS

This study has shown the “Eleghia” technique of passing subtransverse process bands to be a technically straightforward and neurologically safe method of spinal fixation. Pedicle screws, laminar/pedicle/transverse process hooks, and sublaminar metal wires/bands have been incorporated into posterior spinal constructs; they have been widely reported and used in the thoracic and lumbar spines and sacrum or ilium with varying success. This report demonstrates the promising results of hybrid posterior spinal constructs that include the Eleghia technique of passing subtransverse process polyester bands. This technique incorporates technical ease with minimal risk of neurological injury and biomechanical stability.

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Virendra Desai, David Gonda, Sheila L. Ryan, Valentina Briceño, Sandi K. Lam, Thomas G. Luerssen, Sohail H. Syed and Andrew Jea

OBJECT

Several studies have indicated that the 30-day morbidity and mortality risks are higher among pediatric and adult patients who are admitted on the weekends. This “weekend effect” has been observed among patients admitted with and fora variety of diagnoses and procedures, including myocardial infarction, pulmonary embolism, ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm, stroke, peptic ulcer disease, and pediatric surgery. In this study, morbidity and mortality outcomes for emergency pediatric neurosurgical procedures carried out on the weekend or after hours are compared with emergency surgical procedures performed during regular weekday business hours.

METHODS

A retrospective analysis of operative data was conducted. Between December 1, 2011, and August 20, 2014, a total of 710 urgent or emergency neurosurgical procedures were performed at Texas Children’s Hospital in children younger than than 18 years of age. These procedures were then stratified into 3 groups: weekday regular hours, weekday after hours, and weekend hours. By cross-referencing these events with a prospectively collected morbidity and mortality database, the impact of the day and time on complication incidence was examined. Outcome metrics were compared using logistic regression models.

RESULTS

The weekday regular hours and after-hours (weekday after hours and weekends) surgery groups consisted of 341 and 239 patients and 434 and 276 procedures, respectively. There were no significant differences in the types of cases performed (p = 0.629) or baseline preoperative health status as determined by American Society of Anesthesiologists classifications (p = 0.220) between the 2 cohorts. After multivariate adjustment and regression, children undergoing emergency neurosurgical procedures during weekday after hours or weekends were more likely to experience complications (p = 0.0227).

CONCLUSIONS

Weekday after-hours and weekend emergency pediatric neurosurgical procedures are associated with significantly increased 30-day morbidity and mortality risk compared with procedures performed during weekday regular hours.

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I-Wen Pan, Grace M. Kuo, Thomas G. Luerssen and Sandi K. Lam

OBJECT

This study explored antibiotic prophylaxis (AP) in pediatric patients undergoing intrathecal baclofen pump (ITBP) surgery and factors associated with perioperative AP compliance with clinical guidelines.

METHODS

Data were obtained from the Pediatric Health Information System. The study cohort comprised patients who underwent ITBP surgery within 3 days of admission, between July 1, 2004, and March 31, 2014, with a minimum prior screening period and follow-up of 180 days. Exclusion criteria were prior infection, antibiotic use within 30 days of admission, and/or missing financial data. Chi-square tests and multivariate logistic regressions were used to determine factors associated with compliance with AP guidelines in ITBP surgeries.

RESULTS

A total of 1,534 patients met the inclusion criteria; 91.5% received AP and 37.6% received dual coverage or more. Overall bundled compliance comprised 2 components: 1) perioperative antibiotic administration and 2) < 24-hour postoperative antibiotic course. The most frequently used antibiotics in surgery were cefazolin (n = 873, 62.2%) and vancomycin (n = 351, 25%). Documented bundled AP compliance rates were 70.2%, 62.0%, 66.0%, and 55.2% in West, South, Midwest, and Northeast regions of the US, respectively. Compared with surgeries in the Northeast, procedures carried out in the West (OR 2.0, 95% C11.4-2.9, p < 0.001), Midwest (OR 1.6, 95% C11.1-2.3, p = 0.007), and South (OR 1.5, 95% C11.1-2.0, p = 0.021) were more likely to have documented AP compliance. Black (OR 0.74, 95% CI 0.55-1.00, p = 0.05) and Hispanic (OR 0.63, 95% CI 0.47-0.86, p = 0.004) patients were less likely to have documented AP compliance in ITBP surgeries than white patients. There were no significant differences in compliance rate by age, sex, type of insurance, and diagnosis. AP process measures were associated with shorter length of stay, lower hospitalization costs, and lower 6-month rates of surgical infection/complication. One of the 2 noncompliance subgroups, missed preoperative antibiotic administration, was correlated with a significantly higher 6-month surgical complication/infection rate (27.03%) compared with bundled compliance (20.00%, p = 0.021). For the other subgroup, prolonged antibiotic use > 24 hours postoperatively, the rate was insignificantly higher (22.00%, p = 0.368). Thus, of direct relevance to practicing clinicians, missed preoperative antibiotics was associated with 48% higher risk of adverse complication/infection outcome in a 6-month time frame. Adjusted hospitalization costs associated with baclofen pump surgery differed significantly (p < 0.001) with respect to perioperative antibiotic practices: 22.83, 29.10, 37.66 (× 1000 USD) for bundled compliance, missed preoperative antibiotics, and prolonged antibiotic administration, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS

Significant variation in ITBP antibiotic prophylaxis was found. Documented AP compliance was associated with higher value of care, showing favorable clinical and financial outcomes. Of most impact to clinical outcome, missed preoperative antibiotics was significantly associated with higher risk of 6-month surgical complication/infection. Prolonged antibiotic use was associated with significantly higher hospital costs compared with those with overall bundled antibiotic compliance. Future research is warranted to examine factors associated with practice variation and how AP compliance is associated with outcomes and quality, aiming for improving delivery of care to pediatric patients undergoing ITBP procedures.

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John R. W. Kestle

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Caroline Hadley, Sandi K. Lam, Valentina Briceño, Thomas G. Luerssen and Andrew Jea

OBJECT

Currently there is no standardized tool for assessment of neurosurgical resident performance in the operating room. In light of enhanced requirements issued by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education’s Milestone Project and the Matrix Curriculum Project from the Society of Neurological Surgeons, the implementation of such a tool seems essential for objective evaluation of resident competence. Beyond compliance with governing body guidelines, objective assessment tools may be useful to direct early intervention for trainees performing below the level of their peers so that they may be given more hands-on teaching, while strong residents can be encouraged by faculty members to progress to conducting operations more independently with passive supervision. The aims of this study were to implement a validated assessment tool for evaluation of operative skills in pediatric neurosurgery and determine its feasibility and reliability.

METHODS

All neurosurgery residents completing their pediatric rotation over a 6-month period from January 1, 2014, to June 30, 2014, at the authors’ institution were enrolled in this study. For each procedure, residents were evaluated by means of a form, with one copy being completed by the resident and a separate copy being completed by the attending surgeon. The evaluation form was based on the validated Objective Structured Assessment of Technical Skills for Surgery (OSATS) and used a 5-point Likert-type scale with 7 categories: respect for tissue; time and motion; instrument handling; knowledge of instruments; flow of operation; use of assistants; and knowledge of specific procedure. Data were then stratified by faculty versus resident (self-) assessment; postgraduate year level; and difficulty of procedure. Descriptive statistics (means and SDs) were calculated, and the results were compared using the Wilcoxon signed-rank test and Student t-test. A p value < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.

RESULTS

Six faculty members, 1 fellow, and 8 residents completed evaluations for 299 procedures, including 32 ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt revisions, 23 VP shunt placements, 19 endoscopic third ventriculostomies, and 18 craniotomies for tumor resection. There was no significant difference between faculty and resident self-assessment scores overall or in any of the 7 domains scores for each of the involved residents. On self-assessment, senior residents scored themselves significantly higher (p < 0.02) than junior residents overall and in all domains except for “time and motion.” Faculty members scored senior residents significantly higher than junior residents only for the “knowledge of instruments” domain (p = 0.05). When procedure difficulty was considered, senior residents’ scores from faculty members were significantly higher (p = 0.04) than the scores given to junior residents for expert procedures only. Senior residents’ self-evaluation scores were significantly higher than those of junior residents for both expert (p = 0.03) and novice (p = 0.006) procedures.

CONCLUSIONS

OSATS is a feasible and reliable assessment tool for the comprehensive evaluation of neurosurgery resident performance in the operating room. The authors plan to use this tool to assess resident operative skill development and to improve direct resident feedback.

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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.

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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.