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William E. Whitehead, Jay Riva-Cambrin, Abhaya V. Kulkarni, John C. Wellons III, Curtis J. Rozzelle, Mandeep S. Tamber, David D. Limbrick Jr., Samuel R. Browd, Robert P. Naftel, Chevis N. Shannon, Tamara D. Simon, Richard Holubkov, Anna Illner, D. Douglas Cochrane, James M. Drake, Thomas G. Luerssen, W. Jerry Oakes, and John R. W. Kestle

OBJECTIVE

Accurate placement of ventricular catheters may result in prolonged shunt survival, but the best target for the hole-bearing segment of the catheter has not been rigorously defined. The goal of the study was to define a target within the ventricle with the lowest risk of shunt failure.

METHODS

Five catheter placement variables (ventricular catheter tip location, ventricular catheter tip environment, relationship to choroid plexus, catheter tip holes within ventricle, and crosses midline) were defined, assessed for interobserver agreement, and evaluated for their effect on shunt survival in univariate and multivariate analyses. De-identified subjects from the Shunt Design Trial, the Endoscopic Shunt Insertion Trial, and a Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network study on ultrasound-guided catheter placement were combined (n = 858 subjects, all first-time shunt insertions, all patients < 18 years old). The first postoperative brain imaging study was used to determine ventricular catheter placement for each of the catheter placement variables.

RESULTS

Ventricular catheter tip location, environment, catheter tip holes within the ventricle, and crosses midline all achieved sufficient interobserver agreement (κ > 0.60). In the univariate survival analysis, however, only ventricular catheter tip location was useful in distinguishing a target within the ventricle with a survival advantage (frontal horn; log-rank, p = 0.0015). None of the other catheter placement variables yielded a significant survival advantage unless they were compared with catheter tips completely not in the ventricle. Cox regression analysis was performed, examining ventricular catheter tip location with age, etiology, surgeon, decade of surgery, and catheter entry site (anterior vs posterior). Only age (p < 0.001) and entry site (p = 0.005) were associated with shunt survival; ventricular catheter tip location was not (p = 0.37). Anterior entry site lowered the risk of shunt failure compared with posterior entry site by approximately one-third (HR 0.65, 95% CI 0.51–0.83).

CONCLUSIONS

This analysis failed to identify an ideal target within the ventricle for the ventricular catheter tip. Unexpectedly, the choice of an anterior versus posterior catheter entry site was more important in determining shunt survival than the location of the ventricular catheter tip within the ventricle. Entry site may represent a modifiable risk factor for shunt failure, but, due to inherent limitations in study design and previous clinical research on entry site, a randomized controlled trial is necessary before treatment recommendations can be made.

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Abhaya V. Kulkarni, Jay Riva-Cambrin, Richard Holubkov, Samuel R. Browd, D. Douglas Cochrane, James M. Drake, David D. Limbrick, Curtis J. Rozzelle, Tamara D. Simon, Mandeep S. Tamber, John C. Wellons III, William E. Whitehead, John R. W. Kestle, and for the Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network

OBJECTIVE

Endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) is now established as a viable treatment option for a subgroup of children with hydrocephalus. Here, the authors report prospective, multicenter results from the Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network (HCRN) to provide the most accurate determination of morbidity, complication incidence, and efficacy of ETV in children and to determine if intraoperative predictors of ETV success add substantially to preoperative predictors.

METHODS

All children undergoing a first ETV (without choroid plexus cauterization) at 1 of 7 HCRN centers up to June 2013 were included in the study and followed up for a minimum of 18 months. Data, including detailed intraoperative data, were prospectively collected as part of the HCRN's Core Data Project and included details of patient characteristics, ETV failure (need for repeat hydrocephalus surgery), and, in a subset of patients, postoperative complications up to the time of discharge.

RESULTS

Three hundred thirty-six eligible children underwent initial ETV, 18.8% of whom had undergone shunt placement prior to the ETV. The median age at ETV was 6.9 years (IQR 1.7–12.6), with 15.2% of the study cohort younger than 12 months of age. The most common etiologies were aqueductal stenosis (24.8%) and midbrain or tectal lesions (21.2%). Visible forniceal injury (16.6%) was more common than previously reported, whereas severe bleeding (1.8%), thalamic contusion (1.8%), venous injury (1.5%), hypothalamic contusion (1.5%), and major arterial injury (0.3%) were rare. The most common postoperative complications were CSF leak (4.4%), hyponatremia (3.9%), and pseudomeningocele (3.9%). New neurological deficit occurred in 1.5% cases, with 0.5% being permanent.

One hundred forty-one patients had documented failure of their ETV requiring repeat hydrocephalus surgery during follow-up, 117 of them during the first 6 months postprocedure. Kaplan-Meier rates of 30-day, 90-day, 6-month, 1-year, and 2-year failure-free survival were 73.7%, 66.7%, 64.8%, 61.7%, and 57.8%, respectively. According to multivariate modeling, the preoperative ETV Success Score (ETVSS) was associated with ETV success (p < 0.001), as was the intraoperative ability to visualize a “naked” basilar artery (p = 0.023).

CONCLUSIONS

The authors' documented experience represents the most detailed account of ETV results in North America and provides the most accurate picture to date of ETV success and complications, based on contemporaneously collected prospective data. Serious complications with ETV are low. In addition to the ETVSS, visualization of a naked basilar artery is predictive of ETV success.

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James M. Drake, Ash Singhal, Abhaya V. Kulkarni, Gabrielle DeVeber, D. Douglas Cochrane, and The Canadian Pediatric Neurosurgery Study Group

Object

Monitoring and recording of complications in pediatric neurosurgery are important for quality assurance and in particular for improving outcomes. Lack of accurate or mutually agreed upon definitions hampers this process and makes comparisons between centers, which is an important method to improve outcomes, difficult. Therefore, the Canadian Pediatric Neurosurgery Study Group created definitions of complications in pediatric neurosurgery with consensus among 13 Canadian pediatric neurosurgical centers.

Methods

Definitions of complications were extracted from randomized trials, prospective data collection studies, and the medical literature. The definitions were presented at an annual meeting and were subsequently recirculated for anonymous comment and revision, assembled by a third party, and re-presented to the group for consensus.

Results

Widely used definitions of shunt failure were extracted from previous randomized trials and prospective studies. Definitions for wound infections were extracted from the definitions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Postoperative neurological deficits were based on the Pediatric Stroke Outcome Measure. Other definitions were created and modified by consensus. These definitions are now currently in use across the Canadian Pediatric Neurosurgery Study Group centers in Morbidity and Mortality data collection and for subsequent comparison studies.

Conclusions

Coming up with consensus definitions of complications in pediatric neurosurgery is a first step in improving the quality of outcomes. It is a dynamic process, and further refinements are anticipated. Center to center comparison will hopefully allow significant variations in outcomes to be identified and acted upon.

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Jay Riva-Cambrin, Allan S. Detsky, Maria Lamberti-Pasculli, Michael A. Sargent, Derek Armstrong, Rahim Moineddin, D. Douglas Cochrane, and James M. Drake

Object

Approximately 30% of children with posterior fossa tumors exhibit hydrocephalus after tumor resection. Recent literature has suggested that prophylactic endoscopic third ventriculostomy diminishes the risk of this event. Because the majority of patients will not have postoperative hydrocephalus, a preoperative clinical prediction rule that identifies patients at high or low risk for postresection hydrocephalus would be helpful to optimize the care of these children.

Methods

The authors evaluated a derivation cohort of 343 consecutive children with posterior fossa tumors who underwent treatment between 1989 and 2003. Multivariate methods were used on these data to generate the Canadian Preoperative Prediction Rule for Hydrocephalus. The rule's estimated risk of postresection hydrocephalus was compared with risk observed in 111 independent patients in the validation cohort.

Results

Variables identified as significant in predicting postresection hydrocephalus were age < 2 years (score of 3), papilledema (score of 1), moderate to severe hydrocephalus (score of 2), cerebral metastases (score of 3), and specific estimated tumor pathologies (score of 1). Patients with scores ≥ 5 were deemed as high risk. Predicted probabilities for the high- and low-risk groups were 0.73 and 0.25, respectively, from the derivation cohort, and 0.59 and 0.14 after prevalence adjustment compared with the observed values of 0.42 and 0.17 in the validation cohort.

Conclusions

A patient's score on the Preoperative Prediction Rule for Hydrocephalus will allow improved patient counseling and surgical planning by identifying patients at high risk of developing postresection hydrocephalus. These patients might selectively be exposed to the risks of preresection CSF diversion to improve outcome.

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John R. W. Kestle, Hugh J. L. Garton, William E. Whitehead, James M. Drake, Abhaya V. Kulkarni, D. Douglas Cochrane, Cheryl Muszynski, and Marion L. Walker

Object

Approximately 10% of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) shunt operations are associated with infection and require removal or externalization of the shunt, in-hospital treatment with antibiotic agents, and insertion of a new shunt. In a previous survey, the authors identified substantial variation in the duration of antibiotic therapy as well as the duration of hospital stay. The present multicenter pilot study was undertaken to evaluate current strategies in the treatment of shunt infection.

Methods

Patients were enrolled in the study if they had a successful treatment of a CSF shunt infection proved by culture of a CSF specimen. Details of their care and the incidence of culture-proved reinfection were recorded.

Seventy patients from 10 centers were followed up for 1 year after their CSF shunt infection. The initial management of the infection was shunt externalization in 17 patients, shunt removal and external ventricular drain insertion in 50, and antibiotic treatment alone in three. Reinfection occurred in 18 patients (26%). Twelve of the 18 reinfections were caused by the same organism and six were due to new organisms. The treatment time varied from 4 to 47 days, with a mean of 17.4 days for those who later experienced a reinfection compared with 16.2 days for those who did not. The most common organism (Staphylococcus epidermidis, 34 patients) was associated with a reinfection rate of 29% and a mean treatment time of 12.8 days for those who suffered reinfection and 12.5 days for those who did not.

Conclusions

Reinfection after treatment of a CSF shunt infection is alarmingly common. According to the data available, the incidence of reinfection does not appear to be related to the duration of antibiotic therapy.

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John R. W. Kestle, D. Douglas Cochrane, and James M. Drake

Object

The potential for increased complications related to the arrival of new residents in July each year has not previously been demonstrated in the neurosurgical literature. The authors investigated this phenomenon in children undergoing cerebrospinal fluid shunt surgery.

Methods

Data were obtained from a multicenter hydrocephalus clinical trials database and from hospital admission records in English-speaking Canada. Data pertaining to patients treated in July and August were compared with those pertaining to patients treated during the remainder of the year. The incidence of shunt failure, shunt infection, neurological deficits, wound infection, technical errors, and death were compared using a chi-square test for categorical outcomes, means for continuous outcomes, and survival analysis for time-dependent outcomes.

In the hydrocephalus clinical trials database, 138 of 737 patients were treated in July and August. The median duration of shunt lifespan (hereafter referred to as “shunt survival”) was 1.7 years for patients treated during the summer months and 2.4 years for those treated throughout the rest of the year (p = 0.10); for shunt infection the figures were 13.8 and 8.8% (p = 0.08) of the total number of cases, and for wound dehiscence they were 2.9 and 0.7% (p = 0.05), respectively. When all shunt procedures were included, an examination of shunt survival and infection incidence rates recorded in the Canadian Hospital Discharge Database seemed to imply a significant advantage to having surgery between September and June (log-rank statistic = 7.10, p = 0.008).

Conclusions

The data suggest a “July effect” on some outcomes related to shunt surgery, but the effect was small. Nonetheless, the potential morbidity of shunt failure, infection, and the cost of treatment indicate that continued vigilance and appropriate supervision of new staff by attending surgeons is warranted.

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R. Michael Scott

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John R. W. Kestle, James M. Drake, D. Douglas Cochrane, Ruth Milner, Marion L. Walker, Rick Abbott III, Frederick A. Boop, and the Endoscopic Shunt Insertion Trial Participants

Object. Endoscopically assisted ventricular catheter placement has been reported to reduce shunt failure in uncontrolled series. The authors investigated the efficacy of this procedure in a prospective multicenter randomized trial.

Methods. Children younger than 18 years old who were scheduled for their first ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt placement were randomized to undergo endoscopic or nonendoscopic insertion of a ventricular catheter. Eligibility and primary outcome (shunt failure) were decided in a blinded fashion. An intention-to-treat analysis was performed. The sample size offered 80% power to detect a 10 to 15% absolute reduction in the 1-year shunt failure rate.

The authors studied 393 patients from 16 pediatric neurosurgery centers between May 1996 and November 1999. Median patient age at shunt insertion was 89 days. The baseline characteristics of patients within each group were similar: 54% of patients treated with endoscopy were male and 55% of patients treated without endoscopy were male; 30% of patients treated with and 26% of those without endoscopy had myelomeningocele; a differential pressure valve was used in 51% of patients with and 49% of those treated without endoscopy; a Delta valve was inserted in 38% of patients in each group; and a Sigma valve was placed in 9% of patients treated with and 12% of those treated without endoscopy. Median surgical time lasted 40 minutes in the group treated with and 35 minutes in the group treated without endoscopy. Ventricular catheters, which during surgery were thought to be situated away from the choroid plexus, were demonstrated to be in it on postoperative imaging in 67% of patients who had undergone endoscopic insertion and 61% of those who had undergone nonendoscopic shunt placements. The incidence of shunt failure at 1 year was 42% in the endoscopic insertion group and 34% in the nonendoscopic group. The time to first shunt failure was not different between the two groups (log rank = 2.92, p = 0.09).

Conclusions. Endoscopic insertion of the initial VP shunt in children suffering from hydrocephalus did not reduce the incidence of shunt failure.