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Mark S. Dias, Ming Wang, Elias B. Rizk, Robin Bowman, Michael D. Partington, Jeffrey P. Blount, Brandon G. Rocque, Betsy Hopson, Daria Ettinger, Amy Lee, William O. Walker, and on behalf of the National Spina Bifida Patient Registry Group

OBJECTIVE

The aims of this study were to review the National Spina Bifida Patient Registry (NSBPR) data set to study the rates of tethered spinal cord release (TCR) among patients with myelomeningocele and variability between centers, to compare TCR rates between males and females, and to study the relationships between TCR rates and other condition-specific characteristics.

METHODS

The NSBPR registry was queried to identify all patients with myelomeningocele. TCR rates were calculated over time using survival analyses; rates between centers and between males and females were compared. Cox proportional hazards models were constructed to identify relationships between TCR rates and sex, functional lesion level, ambulation status, treated hydrocephalus, and prior Chiari decompression.

RESULTS

Of 6339 patients with information about their operations, 1366 (21.5%) underwent TCR, with significant variability between centers. The majority (75.8%) underwent a single TCR. The annual TCR rate was linear between birth and 13 years (1.8%/year) but declined sharply from 14 to 21 years (0.7%/year). There was no period of time at which the TCR rate accelerated. There were no significant differences in TCR rates between males and females. TCR rate was not related to functional lesion level but was lower among nonambulators compared with community ambulators (p = 0.005) and among those with treated hydrocephalus (HR 0.30, p < 0.001), and higher among those having prior Chiari decompression (HR 1.71, p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

These results extend the results of prior single-institution studies, demonstrate significant treatment variability between institutions, and challenge the traditional concept that tethering is related to spinal cord stretching due to spinal growth.

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Brandon G. Rocque, Raymond P. Waldrop, Isaac Shamblin, Anastasia A. Arynchyna, Betsy Hopson, Tammie Kerr, James M. Johnston, Curtis J. Rozzelle, and Jeffrey P. Blount

OBJECTIVE

Repeated failure of ventriculoperitoneal shunts (VPSs) is a problem familiar to pediatric neurosurgeons and patients. While there have been many studies to determine what factors are associated with the first shunt failure, studies of subsequent failures are much less common. The purpose of this study was to identify the prevalence and associated risk factors of clustered shunt failures (defined as 3 or more VPS operations within 3 months).

METHODS

The authors reviewed prospectively collected records from all patients who underwent VPS surgery from 2008 to 2017 at their institution and included only those children who had received all of their hydrocephalus care at that institution. Demographics, etiology of hydrocephalus, history of endoscopic third ventriculostomy or temporizing procedure, initial valve type, age at shunt placement, and other factors were analyzed. Logistic regression was used to test for the association of each variable with a history of shunt failure cluster.

RESULTS

Of the 465 included children, 28 (6.0%) had experienced at least one cluster of shunt failures. Among time-independent variables, etiology of hydrocephalus (OR 0.27 for non–intraventricular hemorrhage [IVH], nonmyelomeningocele, nonaqueductal stenosis etiology vs IVH, 95% CI 0.11–0.65; p = 0.003), younger gestational age at birth (OR 0.91, 95% CI 0.85–0.97; p = 0.003), history of a temporizing procedure (OR 2.77, 95% CI 1.12–6.85; p = 0.028), and smaller head circumference at time of initial shunt placement (OR 0.91, 95% CI 0.84–0.99; p = 0.044) showed significant association with shunt failure cluster on univariate analysis. None of these variables maintained significance in a multivariate model. Among children with a history of a shunt failure cluster, 21 (75%) had a shunt infection either prior to or during the shunt failure cluster. A comparison of the infecting organism between these children and 62 children with a history of infection but without a shunt failure cluster showed an association of cluster with gram-negative rod species.

CONCLUSIONS

Six percent of children in this institutional sample had at least one shunt failure cluster. These children accounted for 30% of the total shunt revisions in the sample. Shunt infection is an important factor associated with shunt failure cluster. Children with a history of prematurity and IVH may have a higher risk for failure cluster.

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Kathrin Zimmerman, Bobby May, Katherine Barnes, Anastasia Arynchyna, Elizabeth N. Alford, Caroline Arata Wessinger, Laura Dreer, Inmaculada Aban, James M. Johnston, Curtis J. Rozzelle, Jeffrey P. Blount, and Brandon G. Rocque

OBJECTIVE

Childhood hydrocephalus is a common chronic medical condition. However, little is known about the burden of headache and psychological comorbidities in children living with hydrocephalus. The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence and severity of these conditions among the pediatric hydrocephalus population.

METHODS

During routine neurosurgery clinic visits from July 2017 to February 2018, the authors administered four surveys to children ages 7 years and older: Pediatric Migraine Disability Assessment (PedMIDAS), Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) Anxiety, PROMIS Depression, and PROMIS Fatigue. The PedMIDAS is an assessment of headache disability in pediatric and adolescent patients. The PROMIS measures are pediatric self-reported instruments to assess social and emotional health. PROMIS measures utilize T-scores (mean 50, SD 10) to compare anxiety, depression, and fatigue in specific populations to those in the US general population. Clinical and demographic data were collected from the medical record (hydrocephalus etiology, shunt infection, race, etc.) and tested for associations with survey measure scores.

RESULTS

Forty children completed the PedMIDAS. Ten percent of them were in the severe headache range, 5% were in the moderate range, and 5% were in the mild range. There was a statistically significant association between undergoing a cluster of shunt operations and headache burden (p = 0.003).

Forty children completed all three PROMIS measures. The mean anxiety score was 45.8 (SD 11.7), and 2.5% of children scored in the severe anxiety range, 17.5% in the moderate range, and 20% in the mild range. The mean depression score was 42.7 (SD 10.0), with 2.5% of children scoring in the severe depression range, 5% in the moderate range, and 12.5% in the mild range. The mean fatigue score was 45.1 (SD 16.4), with 15% percent of children scoring in the severe fatigue range, 10% in the moderate range, and 7.5% in the mild range. There were no statistically significant associations between child anxiety, depression, or fatigue and clinical or demographic variables.

CONCLUSIONS

Children with hydrocephalus have an average burden of headache, anxiety, depression, and fatigue as compared to the general population overall. Having a cluster of shunt operations correlates with a higher headache burden, but no clinical or demographic variable is associated with anxiety, depression, or fatigue.

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Kathrin Zimmerman, Bobby May, Katherine Barnes, Anastasia Arynchyna, Elizabeth N. Alford, Gustavo Chagoya, Caroline Arata Wessinger, Laura E. Dreer, Inmaculada Aban, James M. Johnston, Curtis J. Rozzelle, Jeffrey P. Blount, and Brandon G. Rocque

OBJECTIVE

Hydrocephalus is a chronic medical condition that has a significant impact on children and their caregivers. The objective of this study was to measure the quality of life (QOL) of children with hydrocephalus, as assessed by both caregivers and patients.

METHODS

Pediatric patients with hydrocephalus and their caregivers were enrolled during routine neurosurgery clinic visits. The Hydrocephalus Outcomes Questionnaire (HOQ), a report of hydrocephalus-related QOL, was administered to both children with hydrocephalus (self-report) and their caregivers (proxy report about the child). Patients with hydrocephalus also completed measures of anxiety, depression, fatigue, traumatic stress, and headache. Caregivers completed a proxy report of child traumatic stress and a measure of caregiver burden. Demographic information was collected from administration of the Psychosocial Assessment Tool (version 2.0) and from the medical record. Child and caregiver HOQ scores were analyzed and correlated with clinical, demographic, and psychological variables.

RESULTS

The mean overall HOQ score (parent assessment of child QOL) was 0.68. HOQ Physical Health, Social-Emotional Health, and Cognitive Health subscore averages were 0.69, 0.73, and 0.54, respectively. The mean overall child self-assessment (cHOQ) score was 0.77, with cHOQ Physical Health, Social-Emotional Health, and Cognitive Health subscore means of 0.84, 0.79, and 0.66, respectively. Thirty-nine dyads were analyzed, in which both a child with hydrocephalus and his or her caregiver completed the cHOQ and HOQ. There was a positive correlation between parent and child scores (p < 0.004 for all subscores). Child scores were consistently higher than parent scores. Variables that showed association with caregiver-assessed QOL in at least one domain included child age, etiology of hydrocephalus, and history of endoscopic third ventriculostomy. There was a significant negative relationship (rho −0.48 to −0.60) between child-reported cHOQ score and child-reported measures of posttraumatic stress, anxiety, depression, and fatigue. There was a similar significant relationship between caregiver report of child’s QOL (HOQ) and caregiver assessment of the child’s posttraumatic stress symptoms as well as their assessment of burden of care (rho = −0.59 and rho = −0.51, respectively). No relationship between parent-reported HOQ and child-reported psychosocial factors was significant. No clinical or demographic variables were associated with child self-assessed cHOQ.

CONCLUSIONS

Pediatric patients with hydrocephalus consistently rate their own QOL higher than their caregivers do. Psychological factors such as anxiety and posttraumatic stress may be associated with lower QOL. These findings warrant further exploration.

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Samuel G. McClugage III, Nicholas M. B. Laskay, Brian N. Donahue, Anastasia Arynchyna, Kathrin Zimmerman, Inmaculada B. Aban, Elizabeth N. Alford, Myriam Peralta-Carcelen, Jeffrey P. Blount, Curtis J. Rozzelle, James M. Johnston, and Brandon G. Rocque

OBJECTIVE

Posthemorrhagic hydrocephalus of prematurity remains a significant problem in preterm infants. In the literature, there is a scarcity of data on the early disease process, when neurosurgeons are typically consulted for recommendations on treatment. Here, the authors sought to evaluate functional outcomes in premature infants at 2 years of age following treatment for posthemorrhagic hydrocephalus. Their goal was to determine the relationship between factors identifiable at the time of the initial neurosurgical consult and outcomes of patients when they are 2 years of age.

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective chart review of premature infants treated for intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH) of prematurity (grade III and IV) between 2003 and 2014. Information from three time points (birth, first neurosurgical consult, and 2 years of age) was collected on each patient. Logistic regression analysis was performed to determine the association between variables known at the time of the first neurosurgical consult and each of the outcome variables.

RESULTS

One hundred thirty patients were selected for analysis. At 2 years of age, 16% of the patients had died, 88% had cerebral palsy/developmental delay (CP), 48% were nonverbal, 55% were nonambulatory, 33% had epilepsy, and 41% had visual impairment. In the logistic regression analysis, IVH grade was an independent predictor of CP (p = 0.004), which had an estimated probability of occurrence of 74% in grade III and 96% in grade IV. Sepsis at or before the time of consult was an independent predictor of visual impairment (p = 0.024), which had an estimated probability of 58%. IVH grade was an independent predictor of epilepsy (p = 0.026), which had an estimated probability of 18% in grade III and 43% in grade IV. The IVH grade was also an independent predictor of verbal function (p = 0.007), which had an estimated probability of 68% in grade III versus 41% in grade IV. A higher weeks gestational age (WGA) at birth was an independent predictor of the ability to ambulate (p = 0.0014), which had an estimated probability of 15% at 22 WGA and up to 98% at 36 WGA. The need for oscillating ventilation at consult was an independent predictor of death before 2 years of age (p = 0.001), which had an estimated probability of 42% in patients needing oscillating ventilation versus 13% in those who did not.

CONCLUSIONS

IVH grade was consistently an independent predictor of functional outcomes at 2 years. Gestational age at birth, sepsis, and the need for oscillating ventilation may also predict worse functional outcomes.

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Brandon G. Rocque, Bradley E. Weprin, Jeffrey P. Blount, Betsy D. Hopson, James M. Drake, Mark G. Hamilton, Michael A. Williams, Patience H. White, Katie O. Orrico, and Jonathan E. Martin

OBJECTIVE

The number of children with complex medical conditions surviving to adulthood is increasing. A planned transition to adult care systems is essential to the health maintenance of these patients. Guidance has been established for the general health care transition (HCT) from adolescence to adulthood. No formal assessment of the performance of pediatric neurosurgeons in HCT has been previously performed. No “best practice” for this process in pediatric neurosurgery currently exists. The authors pursued two goals in this paper: 1) define the current state of HCT in pediatric neurosurgery through a survey of the membership of the American Society of Pediatric Neurosurgeons (ASPN) on current methods of HCT, and 2) develop leadership-endorsed best-practice guidelines for HCT from pediatric to adult neurosurgical health care.

METHODS

Completion of the Current Assessment of Health Care Transition Activities survey was requested of 178 North American pediatric neurosurgeons by using a web-based questionnaire to capture HCT practices of the ASPN membership. The authors concurrently conducted a PubMed/MEDLINE–based literature review of HCT for young adults with special health care needs, surgical conditions, and/or neurological conditions for the period from 1990 to 2018. Selected articles were assembled and reviewed by subject matter experts and members of the ASPN Quality, Safety, and Advocacy Committee. Best-practice recommendations were developed and subjected to peer review by external expert groups.

RESULTS

Seventy-six responses to the survey (43%) were received, and 62 respondents (82%) answered all 12 questions. Scores of 1 (lowest possible score) were recorded by nearly 60% of respondents on transition policy, by almost 70% on transition tracking, by 85% on transition readiness, by at least 40% on transition planning as well as transfer of care, and by 53% on transition completion. Average responses on all core elements were < 2 on the established 4-point scale. Seven best-practice recommendations were developed and endorsed by the ASPN leadership.

CONCLUSIONS

The majority of pediatric neurosurgeons have transition practices that are poor, do not meet the needs of patients and families, and should be improved. A structured approach to transition, local engagement with adult neurosurgical providers, and national partnerships between pediatric and adult neurosurgery organizations are suggested to address current gaps in HCT for patients served by pediatric neurosurgeons.

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Brandon G. Rocque, Betsy D. Hopson, and Jeffrey P. Blount

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Betsy Hopson, MSHA, Elizabeth N. Alford, Kathrin Zimmerman, Jeffrey P. Blount, and Brandon G. Rocque

OBJECTIVE

In spina bifida (SB), transition of care from the pediatric to adult healthcare settings remains an opportunity for improvement. Transition of care is necessarily multidimensional and focuses on increasing independence, autonomy, and personal responsibility for health-related tasks. While prior research has demonstrated that effective transition can improve health outcomes and quality of life while reducing healthcare utilization, little is known about the most advantageous transition program components/design. The individualized transition plan (ITP) was developed to optimize the readiness of the adolescent with SB for adult healthcare. The ITP is a set of clearly articulated, mutually developed goals that arise from best available data on successful transition and are individualized to meet the individual challenges, needs, and attributes of each patient and family.

METHODS

Prospectively completed ITPs were retrospectively reviewed from June 2018 to May 2019. Demographic and disease characteristics were collected, and specific goals were reviewed and categorized.

RESULTS

Thirty-two patients with an ITP were included. The cohort was 50% male and had a mean age of 16.4 years. For goal 1 (maximize education), the most common goal was to complete a career interest survey (44%), followed by researching application/admission requirements for programs of interest (25%), shadowing in and/or visiting a workplace (16%), and improving high school performance (16%). For goal 2 (bowel management), most patients (59%) had a working bowel program with few or no bowel accidents. Eight patients (25%) were having more than the desired number of bowel accidents and received formal consultation with a gastroenterologist. Five patients (16%) needed only minor adjustments to their bowel management regimen. Goal 3 (SB program coordinator goal) focused on documenting medical and/or surgical history for the majority of patients (66%). Other goals aimed to increase patient communication in healthcare settings or utilize available community resources.

CONCLUSIONS

The authors developed an evidence-based ITP that focuses around 5 goals: maximizing education, bowel continence, and goals set by the SB clinic coordinator, parent/caregiver, and patient. Although developed for the authors’ SB clinic, the ITP concept is applicable to transition of care in any chronic childhood illness.

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Elizabeth N. Alford, Betsy D. Hopson, Frederick Safyanov, Anastasia Arynchyna, Robert J. Bollo, Todd C. Hankinson, Brandon G. Rocque, and Jeffrey P. Blount

OBJECTIVE

Neurosurgical management preferences related to myelomeningocele (MMC) care demonstrate significant variability. The authors sought to evaluate variability in practice patterns across a group of senior pediatric neurosurgeons. The purpose of this study was to identify the extent of variability and of consensus with regard to neurosurgical management of MMC and associated hydrocephalus, Chiari II malformation, and tethered spinal cord.

METHODS

A 43-question survey was distributed electronically to the members of the American Society of Pediatric Neurosurgeons (ASPN). The survey covered domains such as clinic case volume, newborn management, hydrocephalus management, transition to adulthood, clinical indications for shunt revision, Chiari II malformation decompression (C2MD), and tethered cord release (TCR). Ninety responses were received from 200 active ASPN members, for an overall response rate of 45%.

RESULTS

The majority (58%) of respondents closed 5–15 new cases of open MMC per year. Nearly all (98%) respondents perform back closure within 48 hours of birth, with the majority imbricating the placode and striving for a 3- to 4-layer closure. The most consistent indications for surgical intervention in early hydrocephalus were CSF leak from the back (92%), progressive ventricular enlargement (89%), and brainstem symptoms, including apnea/bradycardia (81%), stridor (81%), and dysphagia (81%). Eighty percent of respondents indicated that spina bifida care is delivered through multidisciplinary clinics, with neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery, urology, physical therapy, and social work as the most common disciplines included. One-third of clinics see both pediatric and adult patients, one-third offer a formal transition program to adult care, and one-third have no transition program. The vast majority of respondents offer prenatal counseling (95%), referral for in utero closure (66%), and endoscopic third ventriculostomy/choroid plexus cauterization (72%). Respondents were more willing to perform shunt revision for symptoms alone than for image changes alone. An asymptomatic broken shunt without ventricular enlargement produced responses evenly divided between observation, intervention, and further investigation. Operative shunt exploration was always performed before C2MD by 56% of respondents and performed sometimes by 40% of respondents. Symptoms of brainstem dysfunction were the strongest clinical triggers reported for C2MD, while declines in urinary continence, leg strength or sensation, or ambulation were the most consistent thresholds for TCR.

CONCLUSIONS

Significant disparities exist surrounding key areas of decision making regarding treatment for patients with MMC, though there are central areas of agreement among ASPN members. Additionally, there is significant variation in the clinical management of chronic hydrocephalus, C2MD, and TCR, underscoring the need for further research into these specific areas.

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Andrew B. Boucher and Joshua J. Chern