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Sanjay Gupta, Shobhan Vachhrajani, Abhaya V. Kulkarni, Michael D. Taylor, Peter Dirks, James M. Drake, and James T. Rutka

Object

Extraaxial infections of the CNS, including subdural empyema and epidural abscess, are rare but potentially life-threatening conditions. Symptoms are usually progressive, and early diagnosis is therefore important. Early intervention with appropriate treatment offers the best opportunity for eradicating the infection and promoting maximal neurological recovery.

Methods

The medical records of children with extraaxial CNS infection over the last 24 years at the Hospital for Sick Children were analyzed. Only those patients with radiological and/or operative confirmation of the diagnosis of subdural empyema or epidural abscess were included in the study. Demographic and clinical data were collected to determine the outcomes after such infections and factors that predict for such outcomes.

Results

The authors identified 70 children who fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Sinusitis was the most common etiology and was seen in 38 patients. All of these patients were older than 7 years of age at diagnosis. Subdural empyemas were diagnosed in 13 patients following bacterial meningitis, and they were found primarily in infants within the 1st year of life. Other etiological factors included otogenic infection (4 cases), postneurosurgical infection (7 cases), and hematogenous spread of infection (7 cases including 6 cases of spinal epidural abscess). Streptococcus anginosus and Staphylococcus aureus were the most common pathogens identified. Sixty-four patients (91.4%) underwent at least 1 neurosurgical procedure. Seizures and cerebral edema from cortical vein thrombosis were the most common complications.

Conclusions

Due to variable etiology, identification of the responsible microorganism through neurosurgical drainage followed by long-term intravenous antibiotics remains the mainstay in treating extraaxial CNS infections. Optimal outcome is achieved with early diagnosis and therapy.

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Andrew Jea, Michael D. Taylor, Peter B. Dirks, Abhaya V. Kulkarni, James T. Rutka, and James M. Drake

✓The authors describe the novel use of C-1 lateral mass screws in four children 8 years of age or younger, in whom occipitocervical or atlantoaxial fusion was performed for trauma or os odontoideum. The authors retrospectively reviewed the demographics and procedural data of four children, ranging in age from 2 to 8 years, who required and underwent surgical fixation. Although C1–2 screw/rod constructs involving individual C-1 lateral mass screws and C-2 pars interarticularis or pedicle screws have been widely applied in adults, only C1–2 transarticular screw fixation has been reported in children less than 8 years of age. This report demonstrates the successful results of rigid occipitocervical and atlantoaxial fusion in four children in whom C-1 lateral mass screws were placed as part of a screw/rod construct. There was one instance of a vertebral artery injury, and the lessons learned from this complication are discussed.

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Douglas L. Brockmeyer