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Ian F. Pollack, Sameer Agnihotri and Alberto Broniscer

Brain tumors are the most common solid tumors in children, and, unfortunately, many subtypes continue to have a suboptimal long-term outcome. During the last several years, however, remarkable advances in our understanding of the molecular underpinnings of these tumors have occurred as a result of high-resolution genomic, epigenetic, and transcriptomic profiling, which have provided insights for improved tumor categorization and molecularly directed therapies. While tumors such as medulloblastomas have been historically grouped into standard- and high-risk categories, it is now recognized that these tumors encompass four or more molecular subsets with distinct clinical and molecular characteristics. Likewise, high-grade glioma, which for decades was considered a single high-risk entity, is now known to comprise multiple subsets of tumors that differ in terms of patient age, tumor location, and prognosis. The situation is even more complex for ependymoma, for which at least nine subsets of tumors have been described. Conversely, the majority of pilocytic astrocytomas appear to result from genetic changes that alter a single, therapeutically targetable molecular pathway. Accordingly, the present era is one in which treatment is evolving from the historical standard of radiation and conventional chemotherapy to a more nuanced approach in which these modalities are applied in a risk-adapted framework and molecularly targeted therapies are implemented to augment or, in some cases, replace conventional therapy. Herein, the authors review advances in the categorization and treatment of several of the more common pediatric brain tumors and discuss current and future directions in tumor management that hold significant promise for patients with these challenging tumors.

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Prospective multicenter studies in pediatric hydrocephalus

JNSPG 75th Anniversary Invited Review Article

John R. W. Kestle and Jay Riva-Cambrin

Prospective multicenter clinical research studies in pediatric hydrocephalus are relatively rare. They cover a broad spectrum of hydrocephalus topics, including management of intraventricular hemorrhage in premature infants, shunt techniques and equipment, shunt outcomes, endoscopic treatment of hydrocephalus, and prevention and treatment of infection. The research methodologies include randomized trials, cohort studies, and registry-based studies. This review describes prospective multicenter studies in pediatric hydrocephalus since 1990. Many studies have included all forms of hydrocephalus and used device or procedure failure as the primary outcome. Although such studies have yielded useful findings, they might miss important treatment effects in specific subgroups. As multicenter study networks grow, larger patient numbers will allow studies with more focused entry criteria based on known and evolving prognostic factors. In addition, increased use of patient-centered outcomes such as neurodevelopmental assessment and quality of life should be measured and emphasized in study results. Well-planned multicenter clinical studies can significantly affect the care of children with hydrocephalus and will continue to have an important role in improving care for these children and their families.

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Kelly Russell, Erin Selci, Brian Black and Michael J. Ellis

OBJECTIVE

The longitudinal effects of sports-related concussion (SRC) in adolescents on health-related quality of life (HRQOL) remain poorly understood. Hence, the authors established two objectives of this study: 1) compare HRQOL outcomes among adolescents with an acute SRC or a sports-related extremity fracture (SREF) who were followed up until physician-documented clinical recovery; and 2) identify the clinical variables associated with worse HRQOL among adolescent SRC patients.

METHODS

The authors conducted a prospective cohort study of adolescents with acute SRC and those with acute SREF who underwent clinical assessment and follow-up at tertiary subspecialty clinics. Longitudinal patient-reported HRQOL was measured at the time of initial assessment and at each follow-up appointment by using the adolescent version (age 13–18 years) of the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory (PedsQL) Generic Core Scale and Cognitive Functioning Scale.

RESULTS

A total of 135 patients with SRC (60.0% male; mean age 14.7 years; time from injury to initial assessment 6 days) and 96 patients with SREF (59.4% male; mean age 14.1 years; time from injury to initial assessment 8 days) participated in the study. At the initial assessment, the SRC patients demonstrated significantly worse cognitive HRQOL and clinically meaningful impairments in school and overall HRQOL compared to the SREF patients. Clinical variables associated with a worse HRQOL among SRC patients differed by domain but were significantly affected by the patients’ initial symptom burden and the development of delayed physician-documented clinical recovery (> 28 days postinjury). No persistent impairments in HRQOL were observed among SRC patients who were followed up until physician-documented clinical recovery.

CONCLUSIONS

Adolescent SRC is associated with temporary impairments in HRQOL that have been shown to resolve in patients who are followed up until physician-documented clinical recovery. Future studies are needed to identify the clinicopathological features that are associated with impaired HRQOL and to assess whether the initiation of multidisciplinary, targeted rehabilitation strategies would lead to an improvement in HRQOL.

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Spinal instrumentation in infants, children, and adolescents: a review

JNSPG 75th Anniversary Invited Review Article

Stephen Mendenhall, Dillon Mobasser, Katherine Relyea and Andrew Jea

OBJECTIVE

The evolution of pediatric spinal instrumentation has progressed in the last 70 years since the popularization of the Harrington rod showing the feasibility of placing spinal instrumentation into the pediatric spine. Although lacking in pediatric-specific spinal instrumentation, when possible, adult instrumentation techniques and tools have been adapted for the pediatric spine. A new generation of pediatric neurosurgeons with interest in complex spine disorder has pushed the field forward, while keeping the special nuances of the growing immature spine in mind. The authors sought to review their own experience with various types of spinal instrumentation in the pediatric spine and document the state of the art for pediatric spine surgery.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed patients in their practice who underwent complex spine surgery. Patient demographics, operative data, and perioperative complications were recorded. At the same time, the authors surveyed the literature for spinal instrumentation techniques that have been utilized in the pediatric spine. The authors chronicle the past and present of pediatric spinal instrumentation, and speculate about its future.

RESULTS

The medical records of the first 361 patients who underwent 384 procedures involving spinal instrumentation from July 1, 2007, to May 31, 2018, were analyzed. The mean age at surgery was 12 years and 6 months (range 3 months to 21 years and 4 months). The types of spinal instrumentation utilized included occipital screws (94 cases); C1 lateral mass screws (115 cases); C2 pars/translaminar screws (143 cases); subaxial cervical lateral mass screws (95 cases); thoracic and lumbar spine traditional-trajectory and cortical-trajectory pedicle screws (234 cases); thoracic and lumbar sublaminar, subtransverse, and subcostal polyester bands (65 cases); S1 pedicle screws (103 cases); and S2 alar-iliac/iliac screws (56 cases). Complications related to spinal instrumentation included hardware-related skin breakdown (1.8%), infection (1.8%), proximal junctional kyphosis (1.0%), pseudarthroses (1.0%), screw malpositioning (0.5%), CSF leak (0.5%), hardware failure (0.5%), graft migration (0.3%), nerve root injury (0.3%), and vertebral artery injury (0.3%).

CONCLUSIONS

Pediatric neurosurgeons with an interest in complex spine disorders in children should develop a comprehensive armamentarium of safe techniques for placing rigid and nonrigid spinal instrumentation even in the smallest of children, with low complication rates. The authors’ review provides some benchmarks and outcomes for comparison, and furnishes a historical perspective of the past and future of pediatric spine surgery.

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Victor M. Lu, Mohammed A. Alvi, Kerrie L. McDonald and David J. Daniels

OBJECTIVE

Pediatric high-grade gliomas (pHGGs), including diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, present a prognostic challenge given their lethality and rarity. A substitution mutation of lysine for methionine at position 27 in histone H3 (H3K27M) has been shown to be highly specific to these tumors. Data are accumulating regarding the poor outcomes of patients with these tumors; however, the quantification of pooled outcomes has yet to be done, which could assist in prioritizing management. The aim of this study was to quantitatively pool data in the current literature on the H3K27M mutation as an independent prognostic factor in pHGG.

METHODS

Searches of seven electronic databases from their inception to March 2018 were conducted according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Data were extracted and pooled using a meta-analysis of proportions. Meta-regression was used to identify potential sources of heterogeneity.

RESULTS

Six observational studies satisfied the selection criteria for inclusion. They reported the survival outcomes of a pooled cohort of 474 pHGG patients, with 258 (54%) and 216 (46%) patients positive and negative, respectively, for the H3K27M mutation. Overall, the presence of the mutation was independently and significantly associated with a worse prognosis (HR 3.630, p < 0.001). Overall survival was significantly shorter (by 2.300 years; p = 0.008) when the H3K27M mutation was present in pHGG. Meta-regression did not identify any study covariates of heterogeneous concern.

CONCLUSIONS

According to the current literature, pHGG patients positive for the H3K27M mutation are more than 3 times more susceptible to succumbing to this disease by more than 2 years, compared to patients negative for the mutation. More robust outcome data are required to improve our quantitative understanding of this pathological entity in order to assist in prioritizing clinical management. Future larger prospective studies are required to overcome inherent biases in the current literature to validate the quantitative findings of this study.

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Kathryn V. Isaac, John G. Meara and Mark R. Proctor

The authors compared the effectiveness of two main surgical techniques used for treating sagittal craniosynostosis (SC): endoscopic suturectomy (ES) and cranial vault remodeling (CVR). The safety, head growth, and aesthetic results following ES and CVR were compared by reviewing the charts of more than 200 patients. By comparing the effectiveness of these two treatments, this study will help guide selection of the optimal surgical treatment for patients with SC.

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Aiko Terada, Masaki Komiyama, Tomoya Ishiguro, Yasunari Niimi and Hidenori Oishi

The authors performed a nationwide study in Japan to evaluate the annual detected rate of pediatric intracranial arteriovenous (AV) shunts such as brain AV malformations (BAVMs), pial AV fistulas (PAVFs), vein of Galen aneurysmal malformations (VGAMs), and dural AV fistulas (DAVFs). These rates were revealed for the first time and showed that VGAM, DAVF, and PAVF were relatively common but that BAVMs were extremely rare in neonates and infants.

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Jacob K. Greenberg, Donna B. Jeffe, Christopher R. Carpenter, Yan Yan, Jose A. Pineda, Angela Lumba-Brown, Martin S. Keller, Daniel Berger, Robert J. Bollo, Vijay M. Ravindra, Robert P. Naftel, Michael C. Dewan, Manish N. Shah, Erin C. Burns, Brent R. O’Neill, Todd C. Hankinson, William E. Whitehead, P. David Adelson, Mandeep S. Tamber, Patrick J. McDonald, Edward S. Ahn, William Titsworth, Alina N. West, Ross C. Brownson and David D. Limbrick Jr.

OBJECTIVE

There remains uncertainty regarding the appropriate level of care and need for repeating neuroimaging among children with mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) complicated by intracranial injury (ICI). This study’s objective was to investigate physician practice patterns and decision-making processes for these patients in order to identify knowledge gaps and highlight avenues for future investigation.

METHODS

The authors surveyed residents, fellows, and attending physicians from the following pediatric specialties: emergency medicine; general surgery; neurosurgery; and critical care. Participants came from 10 institutions in the United States and an email list maintained by the Canadian Neurosurgical Society. The survey asked respondents to indicate management preferences for and experiences with children with mTBI complicated by ICI, focusing on an exemplar clinical vignette of a 7-year-old girl with a Glasgow Coma Scale score of 15 and a 5-mm subdural hematoma without midline shift after a fall down stairs.

RESULTS

The response rate was 52% (n = 536). Overall, 326 (61%) respondents indicated they would recommend ICU admission for the child in the vignette. However, only 62 (12%) agreed/strongly agreed that this child was at high risk of neurological decline. Half of respondents (45%; n = 243) indicated they would order a planned follow-up CT (29%; n = 155) or MRI scan (19%; n = 102), though only 64 (12%) agreed/strongly agreed that repeat neuroimaging would influence their management. Common factors that increased the likelihood of ICU admission included presence of a focal neurological deficit (95%; n = 508 endorsed), midline shift (90%; n = 480) or an epidural hematoma (88%; n = 471). However, 42% (n = 225) indicated they would admit all children with mTBI and ICI to the ICU. Notably, 27% (n = 143) of respondents indicated they had seen one or more children with mTBI and intracranial hemorrhage demonstrate a rapid neurological decline when admitted to a general ward in the last year, and 13% (n = 71) had witnessed this outcome at least twice in the past year.

CONCLUSIONS

Many physicians endorse ICU admission and repeat neuroimaging for pediatric mTBI with ICI, despite uncertainty regarding the clinical utility of those decisions. These results, combined with evidence that existing practice may provide insufficient monitoring to some high-risk children, emphasize the need for validated decision tools to aid the management of these patients.