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Abusive head trauma: evidence, obfuscation, and informed management

JNSPG 75th Anniversary Invited Review Article

Ann-Christine Duhaime and Cindy W. Christian

Abusive head trauma remains the major cause of serious head injury in infants and young children. A great deal of research has been undertaken to inform the recognition, evaluation, differential diagnosis, management, and legal interventions when children present with findings suggestive of inflicted injury. This paper reviews the evolution of current practices and controversies, both with respect to medical management and to etiological determination of the variable constellations of signs, symptoms, and radiological findings that characterize young injured children presenting for neurosurgical care.

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Fatima Khalid, George L. Yang, Jennifer L. McGuire, Matthew J. Robson, Brandon Foreman, Laura B. Ngwenya and John N. Lorenz

Although there is a substantial amount of research on the neurological consequences of traumatic brain injury (TBI), there is a knowledge gap regarding the relationship between TBI and the pathophysiology of organ system dysfunction and autonomic dysregulation. In particular, the mechanisms or incidences of renal or cardiac complications after TBI are mostly unknown. Autonomic dysfunction following TBI exacerbates secondary injury and may contribute to nonneurologial complications that prolong hospital length of stay. Gaining insights into the mechanisms of autonomic dysfunction can guide advancements in monitoring and treatment paradigms to improve acute survival and long-term prognosis of TBI patients. In this paper, the authors will review the literature on autonomic dysfunction after TBI and possible mechanisms of paroxysmal sympathetic hyperactivity. Specifically, they will discuss the link among the brain, heart, and kidneys and review data to direct future research on and interventions for TBI-induced autonomic dysfunction.

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Parantap Patel, Davis Taylor and Min S. Park

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality, especially among members of the armed services. Injuries sustained in the battlefield are subject to different mechanisms than those sustained in civilian life, particularly blast and high-velocity injury. Due to the unique nature of these injuries and the challenges associated with battlefield medicine, surgical interventions play a key role in acute management of TBI. However, the burden of chronic disease posed by TBI is poorly understood and difficult to investigate, especially in the military setting. The authors report the case logs of a United States Navy neurosurgeon, detailing the acute management and outcomes of 156 patients sustaining TBI between November 2010 and May 2011 during the war in Afghanistan. By demographics, more than half of the patients treated were local nationals. By mechanism of injury, blunt trauma (40.4%) and explosive injury (37.2%) were the most common contributors to TBI. Decompressive craniectomies (24.0%) and clot evacuations (14.7%) were the procedures most commonly performed. Nearly one-quarter of patients were transferred to receive further care, yet only 3 patients were referred for rehabilitative services. Furthermore, the data suggest that patients sustaining comorbid injuries in addition to TBI may be predisposed to worse outcomes. Improvements in documentation of military patients may improve knowledge of TBI and further identify potential variables or treatments that may affect prognosis. The increased survivability from TBI also highlights the need for additional research expenditure in the field of neurorehabilitation specifically.

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Chiari malformation and syringomyelia

JNSPG 75th Anniversary Invited Review Article

Langston T. Holly and Ulrich Batzdorf

Chiari malformation was first described over a century ago, and consists of posterior fossa anomalies that generally share the feature of cerebellar tonsillar descent through the foramen magnum. Our understanding of this disorder was initially based on autopsy studies, and has been greatly enhanced by the advent of MRI. The surgical management of Chiari anomalies has also evolved in a parallel fashion. Although the exact surgical technique varies among individual surgeons, the goals of surgery remain constant and consist of relieving brainstem compression and cranial nerve distortion, restoring the normal flow of CSF across the foramen magnum, and reducing the size of any associated syrinx cavity. Syrinx cavities are most commonly associated with Chiari anomalies, yet primary spinal syringomyelia (PSS) can be caused by traumatic, infectious, degenerative, and other etiologies that cause at least a partial CSF flow obstruction in the spinal subarachnoid space. As with syringomyelia associated with Chiari anomalies, the main goal of PSS surgery is to reestablish CSF flow across the area of obstruction. In addition to MRI, myelography with CT can be very helpful in the evaluation and management of these patients by identifying focal regions of CSF obstruction that may be amenable to surgical intervention. Future directions for the treatment of Chiari anomalies and syringomyelia include the application of advanced imaging techniques, more widespread use of genetic evaluation, large-scale outcome studies, and the further refinement of surgical technique.

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William J. Ares, Brian T. Jankowitz, Daniel A. Tonetti, Bradley A. Gross and Ramesh Grandhi

OBJECTIVE

Penetrating cerebrovascular injury (PCVI) is a subset of traumatic brain injury (TBI) comprising a broad spectrum of cerebrovascular pathology, including traumatic pseudoaneurysms, direct arterial injury, venous sinus stenosis or occlusion, and traumatic dural arteriovenous fistulas. These can result in immediate or delayed vascular injury and consequent neurological morbidity. Current TBI guidelines recommend cerebrovascular imaging for detection, but there is no consensus on the optimum modality. The aim of this retrospective cohort study was to compare CT angiography (CTA) and digital subtraction angiography (DSA) for the diagnosis of PCVI.

METHODS

The records of all patients presenting to two level I trauma centers in the United States between January 2010 and July 2016 with penetrating head or neck trauma were reviewed. Only those who had undergone both CTA and DSA were included. Clinical and neuroimaging data were collected, and PCVIs were stratified using a modified Biffl grading scheme. DSA and CTA results were then compared.

RESULTS

Of 312 patients with penetrating trauma over the study period, 56 patients (91% male, mean age 32 years) with PCVI met inclusion criteria and constituted the study cohort. The mechanism of injury was a gunshot wound in 86% (48/56) of patients. Twenty-four (43%) patients had sustained an angiographically confirmed arterial or venous injury. Compared with DSA as the gold standard, CTA had a sensitivity and specificity of 72% and 63%, respectively, for identifying PCVI. CTA had a positive predictive value of 61% and negative predictive value of 70%. Seven patients (13%) required immediate endovascular treatment of PCVI; in 3 (43%) of these patients, the injury was not identified on CTA. Twenty-two patients (39%) underwent delayed DSA an average of 25 days after injury; 2 (9%) of these patients were found to harbor new pathological conditions requiring treatment.

CONCLUSIONS

In this retrospective analysis of PCVI at two large trauma centers, CTA demonstrated low sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values for the diagnosis of PCVI. These findings suggest that DSA provides better accuracy than CTA in the diagnosis of both immediate and delayed PCVI and should be considered for patients experiencing penetrating head or neck trauma.

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Maria Pia Tropeano, Riccardo Spaggiari, Hernán Ileyassoff, Kee B. Park, Angelos G. Kolias, Peter J. Hutchinson and Franco Servadei

OBJECTIVE

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a global public health problem and more than 70% of trauma-related deaths are estimated to occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Nevertheless, there is a consistent lack of data from these countries. The aim of this work is to estimate the capacity of different and heterogeneous areas of the world to report and publish data on TBI. In addition, we wanted to estimate the countries with the highest and lowest number of publications when taking into account the relative TBI burden.

METHODS

First, a bibliometric analysis of all the publications about TBI available in the PubMed database from January 1, 2008, to December 31, 2018, was performed. These data were tabulated by country and grouped according to each geographical region as indicated by the WHO: African Region (AFR), Region of the Americas (PAH), South-East Asia Region (SEAR), European Region (EUR), Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR), and Western Pacific Region (WPR). In this analysis, PAH was further subdivided into Latin America (AMR-L) and North America (AMR-US/Can). Then a “publication to TBI volume ratio” was derived to estimate the research interest in TBI with respect to the frequency of this pathology.

RESULTS

Between 2008 and 2018 a total of 8144 articles were published and indexed in the PubMed database about TBI. Leading WHO regions in terms of contributions were AMR-US/Can with 4183 articles (51.36%), followed by EUR with 2003 articles (24.60%), WPR with 1507 (18.50%), AMR-L with 141 articles (1.73%), EMR with 135 (1.66%), AFR with 91 articles (1.12%), and SEAR with 84 articles (1.03%). The highest publication to TBI volume ratios were found for AMR-US/Can (90.93) and EUR (21.54), followed by WPR (8.71) and AMR-L (2.43). Almost 90 times lower than the ratio of AMR-US/Can were the ratios for AFR (1.15) and SEAR (0.46).

CONCLUSIONS

An important disparity currently exists between countries with a high burden of TBI and those in which most of the research is conducted. A call for improvement of data collection and research outputs along with an increase in international collaboration could quantitatively and qualitatively improve the ability of LMICs to ameliorate TBI care and develop clinical practice guidelines.

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Kazuki Komiyama, Masahiko Tosaka, Hiroya Shimauchi-Ohtaki, Masanori Aihara, Tatsuya Shimizu and Yuhei Yoshimoto

OBJECTIVE

Head CT is sometimes performed immediately after minor head injury; however, which cases develop into chronic subdural hematoma (CSDH) remains unclear. Here, the authors retrospectively reviewed the rare cases of CSDH treated surgically in which early head CT had been performed after the initial head trauma.

METHODS

A total of 172 patients (133 male and 39 female, median age 76 years) underwent surgery for CSDH at Gunma University Hospital between April 2010 and December 2017. Among these patients were 23 who had visited Gunma University Hospital or a nearby hospital and had undergone head CT within 7 days after the initial head trauma. Characteristics of the initial head CT were examined to identify indicators of subsequent CSDH.

RESULTS

Among the 23 CSDH cases (17 male and 6 female, median age 80 years), CT scans were obtained on the day of the initial injury (day 0) in 19 cases (25 sides) and 1–7 days after injury in 12 cases (19 sides); scans were obtained during both periods in 8 cases (12 sides), so that a total of 44 sides were examined. These CT scans were divided into two groups according to when they were obtained; cases in which scans were taken during both periods were included in both groups. Head CT performed on the day of injury showed normal findings in 5 (20%) of 25 sides, thin subdural effusion (SDE) ≤ 6 mm in 16 (64%) of 25 sides, thick SDE > 6 mm in 3 (12%) of 25 sides, and acute subdural hematoma (ASDH) in 1 (4%) of 25 sides. CT from 1–7 days after trauma showed thick SDE in 9 (47%) of 19 sides, thin SDE in 8 (42%) of 19 sides, and ASDH in 2 (11%) of 19 sides. A high-density line in the lateral direction (onion skin–like) was found between the skull and the brain in 9 (35%) of 26 sides with SDE on initial CT 0–7 days after the injury.

CONCLUSIONS

ASDH was not a common cause of CSDH. Head CT at the time of trauma that precedes CSDH often showed SDE. Such SDE that precedes CSDH was often close to the detection limit of CT immediately after the injury but became more apparent from the day after the injury.