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Nikita G. Alexiades, Belinda Shao, Bruno P. Braga, Christopher M. Bonfield, Douglas L. Brockmeyer, Samuel R. Browd, Michael DiLuna, Mari L. Groves, Todd C. Hankinson, Andrew Jea, Jeffrey R. Leonard, Sean M. Lew, David D. Limbrick Jr., Francesco T. Mangano, Jonathan Martin, Joshua Pahys, Alexander Powers, Mark R. Proctor, Luis Rodriguez, Curtis Rozzelle, Phillip B. Storm, and Richard C. E. Anderson

OBJECTIVE

Cervical traction in pediatric patients is an uncommon but invaluable technique in the management of cervical trauma and deformity. Despite its utility, little empirical evidence exists to guide its implementation, with most practitioners employing custom or modified adult protocols. Expert-based best practices may improve the care of children undergoing cervical traction. In this study, the authors aimed to build consensus and establish best practices for the use of pediatric cervical traction in order to enhance its utilization, safety, and efficacy.

METHODS

A modified Delphi method was employed to try to identify areas of consensus regarding the utilization and implementation of pediatric cervical spine traction. A literature review of pediatric cervical traction was distributed electronically along with a survey of current practices to a group of 20 board-certified pediatric neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons with expertise in the pediatric cervical spine. Sixty statements were then formulated and distributed to the group. The results of the second survey were discussed during an in-person meeting leading to further consensus. Consensus was defined as ≥ 80% agreement on a 4-point Likert scale (strongly agree, agree, disagree, strongly disagree).

RESULTS

After the initial round, consensus was achieved with 40 statements regarding the following topics: goals, indications, and contraindications of traction (12), pretraction imaging (6), practical application and initiation of various traction techniques (8), protocols in trauma and deformity patients (8), and management of traction-related complications (6). Following the second round, an additional 9 statements reached consensus related to goals/indications/contraindications of traction (4), related to initiation of traction (4), and related to complication management (1). All participants were willing to incorporate the consensus statements into their practice.

CONCLUSIONS

In an attempt to improve and standardize the use of cervical traction in pediatric patients, the authors have identified 49 best-practice recommendations, which were generated by reaching consensus among a multidisciplinary group of pediatric spine experts using a modified Delphi technique. Further study is required to determine if implementation of these practices can lead to reduced complications and improved outcomes for children.

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Jonathan E. Martin, Brandon G. Rocque, Andrew Jea, Richard C. E. Anderson, Joshua Pahys, and Douglas Brockmeyer

OBJECTIVE

Hypermobility of the craniocervical junction (CCJ) in patients with Down syndrome (DS) is common. Whereas atlantoaxial (C1–2) hypermobility is well characterized, occipitoatlantal (Oc–C1) laxity is recognized but poorly defined. A clear understanding of the risks associated with DS-related hypermobility is lacking. Research efforts to address the topic of axial cervical spine instability in the patient with DS require a reliable and reproducible means of assessing CCJ mobility. The authors conducted a pilot study comparing two methods of quantifying motion of the CCJ on dynamic (flexion/extension) plain radiographs: the delta–condyle-axial interval (ΔCAI) and the delta–basion-axial interval (ΔBAI) methods.

METHODS

Dynamic radiographs from a cohort of 10 patients with DS were evaluated according to prescribed standards. Independent movement of Oc–C1, C1–2, and Oc–C2 was calculated. Interrater and intrarater reliability for CCJ mobility was then calculated for both techniques.

RESULTS

Measurement using the ΔCAI technique had excellent fidelity with intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) of 0.77, 0.71, and 0.80 for Oc–C1, C1–2, and Oc–C2, respectively. The ΔBAI technique had lower fidelity, yielding respective ICCs of 0.61, 0.65, and 0.50.

CONCLUSIONS

This pilot study suggests that ΔCAI is a superior measurement technique compared to ΔBAI and may provide reliable assessment of the mobility of the CCJ on dynamic radiographs in the pediatric patient with DS. The use of reliable and reproducible measurement techniques strengthens the validity of research derived from pooled database efforts.

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Nikita G. Alexiades, Edward S. Ahn, Jeffrey P. Blount, Douglas L. Brockmeyer, Samuel R. Browd, Gerald A. Grant, Gregory G. Heuer, Todd C. Hankinson, Bermans J. Iskandar, Andrew Jea, Mark D. Krieger, Jeffrey R. Leonard, David D. Limbrick Jr., Cormac O. Maher, Mark R. Proctor, David I. Sandberg, John C. Wellons III, Belinda Shao, Neil A. Feldstein, and Richard C. E. Anderson

OBJECTIVE

Complications after complex tethered spinal cord (cTSC) surgery include infections and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leaks. With little empirical evidence to guide management, there is variability in the interventions undertaken to limit complications. Expert-based best practices may improve the care of patients undergoing cTSC surgery. Here, authors conducted a study to identify consensus-driven best practices.

METHODS

The Delphi method was employed to identify consensual best practices. A literature review regarding cTSC surgery together with a survey of current practices was distributed to 17 board-certified pediatric neurosurgeons. Thirty statements were then formulated and distributed to the group. Results of the second survey were discussed during an in-person meeting leading to further consensus, which was defined as ≥ 80% agreement on a 4-point Likert scale (strongly agree, agree, disagree, strongly disagree).

RESULTS

Seventeen consensus-driven best practices were identified, with all participants willing to incorporate them into their practice. There were four preoperative interventions: (1, 2) asymptomatic AND symptomatic patients should be referred to urology preoperatively, (3, 4) routine preoperative urine cultures are not necessary for asymptomatic AND symptomatic patients. There were nine intraoperative interventions: (5) patients should receive perioperative cefazolin or an equivalent alternative in the event of allergy, (6) chlorhexidine-based skin preparation is the preferred regimen, (7) saline irrigation should be used intermittently throughout the case, (8) antibiotic-containing irrigation should be used following dural closure, (9) a nonlocking running suture technique should be used for dural closure, (10) dural graft overlay should be used when unable to obtain primary dural closure, (11) an expansile dural graft should be incorporated in cases of lipomyelomeningocele in which primary dural closure does not permit free flow of CSF, (12) paraxial muscles should be closed as a layer separate from the fascia, (13) routine placement of postoperative drains is not necessary. There were three postoperative interventions: (14) postoperative antibiotics are an option and, if given, should be discontinued within 24 hours; (15) patients should remain flat for at least 24 hours postoperatively; (16) routine use of abdominal binders or other compressive devices postoperatively is not necessary. One intervention was prioritized for additional study: (17) further study of additional gram-negative perioperative coverage is needed.

CONCLUSIONS

A modified Delphi technique was used to develop consensus-driven best practices for decreasing wound complications after cTSC surgery. Further study is required to determine if implementation of these practices will lead to reduced complications. Discussion through the course of this study resulted in the initiation of a multicenter study of gram-negative surgical site infections in cTSC surgery.

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Benjamin C. Kennedy, Randy S. D’Amico, Brett E. Youngerman, Michael M. McDowell, Kristopher G. Hooten, Daniel Couture, Andrew Jea, Jeffrey Leonard, Sean M. Lew, David W. Pincus, Luis Rodriguez, Gerald F. Tuite, Michael L. Diluna, Douglas L. Brockmeyer, Richard C. E. Anderson, and Pediatric Craniocervical Society

OBJECT

The long-term consequences of atlantoaxial (AA) and occipitocervical (OC) fusion and instrumentation in young children are unknown. Anecdotal reports have raised concerns regarding altered growth and alignment of the cervical spine after surgical intervention. The purpose of this study was to determine the long-term effects of these surgeries on the growth and alignment of the maturing spine.

METHODS

A multiinstitutional retrospective chart review was conducted for patients less than or equal to 6 years of age who underwent OC or AA fusion with rigid instrumentation at 9 participating centers. All patients had at least 3 years of clinical and radiographic follow-up data and radiographically confirmed fusion. Preoperative, immediate postoperative, and most recent follow-up radiographs and/or CT scans were evaluated to assess changes in spinal growth and alignment.

RESULTS

Forty children (9 who underwent AA fusion and 31 who underwent OC fusion) were included in the study (mean follow-up duration 56 months). The mean vertical growth over the fused levels in the AA fusion patients represented 30% of the growth of the cervical spine (range 10%–50%). Three different vertical growth patterns of the fusion construct developed among the 31 OC fusion patients during the follow-up period: 1) 16 patients had substantial growth (13%–46% of the total growth of the cervical spine); 2) 9 patients had no meaningful growth; and 3) 6 patients, most of whom presented with a distracted atlantooccipital dislocation, had a decrease in the height of the fused levels (range 7–23 mm). Regarding spinal alignment, 85% (34/40) of the patients had good alignment at follow-up, with straight or mildly lordotic cervical curvatures. In 1 AA fusion patient (11%) and 5 OC fusion patients (16%), we observed new hyperlordosis (range 43°–62°). There were no cases of new kyphosis or swan-neck deformity, evidence of subaxial instability, or unintended subaxial fusion. No preoperative predictors of these growth patterns or alignment were evident.

CONCLUSIONS

These results demonstrate that most young children undergoing AA and OC fusion with rigid internal fixation continue to have good cervical alignment and continued growth within the fused levels during a prolonged follow-up period. However, some variability in vertical growth and alignment exists, highlighting the need to continue close long-term follow-up.

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Todd C. Hankinson, Anthony M. Avellino, David Harter, Andrew Jea, Sean Lew, David Pincus, Mark R. Proctor, Luis Rodriguez, David Sacco, Theodore Spinks, Douglas L. Brockmeyer, and Richard C. E. Anderson

Object

The object of this study was to assess a multiinstitutional experience with pediatric occipitocervical constructs to determine whether a difference exists between the fusion and complication rates of constructs with or without direct C-1 instrumentation.

Methods

Seventy-seven cases of occiput-C2 instrumentation and fusion, performed at 9 children's hospitals, were retrospectively analyzed. Entry criteria included atlantooccipital instability with or without atlantoaxial instability. Any case involving subaxial instability was excluded. Constructs were divided into 3 groups based on the characteristics of the anchoring spinal instrumentation: Group 1, C-2 instrumentation; Group 2, C-1 and C-2 instrumentation without transarticular screw (TAS) placement; and Group 3, any TAS placement. Groups were compared based on rates of fusion and perioperative complications.

Results

Group 1 consisted of 16 patients (20.8%) and had a 100% rate of radiographically demonstrated fusion. Group 2 included 22 patients (28.6%), and a 100% fusion rate was achieved, although 2 cases were lost to follow-up before documented fusion. Group 3 included 39 patients (50.6%) and demonstrated a 100% radiographic fusion rate. Complication rates were 12.5, 13.7, and 5.1%, respectively. There were 3 vertebral artery injuries, 1 (4.5%) in Group 2 and 2 (5.1%) in Group 3.

Conclusions

High fusion rates and low complication rates were achieved with each configuration examined. There was no difference in fusion rates between the group without (Group 1) and those with (Groups 2 and 3) C-1 instrumentation. These findings indicated that in the pediatric population, excellent occipitocervical fusion rates can be accomplished without directly instrumenting C-1.

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Atul Goel

Abstract (Jea et al.)

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.