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Zaid Aljuboori, Jacob Archer, Wei Huff, Amee Moreno, and Andrew Jea

Intrathecal baclofen has been suggested as an effective and safe treatment for intractable spasticity and dystonia. Techniques of lumbar and intraventricular catheter placement have been previously described. The purpose of this study was to describe a technique to implant catheters for intrathecal baclofen infusion through C1–2 puncture.

Four of 5 consecutively treated patients underwent successful placement of catheters for intrathecal baclofen. There were no instances of infection, CSF leak, or catheter migration seen during a follow-up period of at least 6 months; furthermore, there were no occurrences of vertebral artery or spinal cord injury. All patients had an effective stabilization or reduction of their upper-extremity, lower-extremity, or trunk tone. There were no cases of worsening hypertonia.

The authors’ preliminary experience with C1–2 puncture for placement of the intrathecal baclofen catheter seems to indicate that this is a safe and efficacious technique. Lessons learned from the failed attempt at C1–2 puncture will be delineated.

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Guillermo Aldave, Daniel Hansen, Steven W. Hwang, Amee Moreno, Valentina Briceño, and Andrew Jea

OBJECTIVE

Tethered cord syndrome is the clinical manifestation of an abnormal stretch on the spinal cord, presumably causing mechanical injury, a compromised blood supply, and altered spinal cord metabolism. Tethered cord release is the standard treatment for tethered cord syndrome. However, direct untethering of the spinal cord carries potential risks, such as new neurological deficits from spinal cord injury, a CSF leak from opening the dura, and retethering of the spinal cord from normal scar formation after surgery. To avoid these risks, the authors applied spinal column shortening to children and transitional adults with primary and secondary tethered cord syndrome and report treatment outcomes. The authors' aim with this study was to determine the safety and efficacy of spinal column shortening for tethered cord syndrome by analyzing their experience with this surgical technique.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed the demographic and procedural data of children and young adults who had undergone spinal column shortening for primary or secondary tethered cord syndrome.

RESULTS

Seven patients with tethered cord syndrome caused by myelomeningocele, lipomyelomeningocele, and transitional spinal lipoma were treated with spinal column shortening. One patient with less than 24 months of follow-up was excluded from further analysis. There were 3 males and 4 females; the average age at the time was surgery was 16 years (range 8–30 years). Clinical presentations for our patients included pain (in 5 patients), weakness (in 4 patients), and bowel/bladder dysfunction (in 4 patients). Spinal column osteotomy was most commonly performed at the L-1 level, with fusion between T-12 and L-2 using a pedicle screw-rod construct. Pedicle subtraction osteotomy was performed in 6 patients, and vertebral column resection was performed in 1 patient. The average follow-up period was 31 months (range 26–37 months). Computed tomography–based radiographic outcomes showed solid fusion and no instrumentation failure in all cases by the most recent follow-up. Five of 7 patients (71%) reported improvement in preoperative symptoms during the follow-up period. The mean differences in initial and most recent Scoliosis Research Society Outcomes Questionnaire and Oswestry Disability Index scores were 0.26 and –13%, respectively; minimum clinically important difference in SRS-22 and ODI were assumed to be 0.4% and –12.8%, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS

Spinal column shortening seems to represent a safe and efficacious alternative to traditional untethering of the spinal cord for tethered cord syndrome.

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Aditya Vedantam, Daniel Hansen, Valentina Briceño, Amee Moreno, Sheila L. Ryan, and Andrew Jea

OBJECTIVE

The purpose of this study was to describe patterns of transfer, resource utilization, and clinical outcomes associated with the interhospital transfer of pediatric neurosurgical patients.

METHODS

All consecutive, prospectively collected requests for interhospital patient transfer to the pediatric neurosurgical service at Texas Children's Hospital were retrospectively analyzed from October 2013 to September 2014. Demographic patient information, resource utilization, and outcomes were recorded and compared across predefined strata (low [< 5%], moderate [5%–30%], and high [> 30%]) of predicted probability of mortality using the Pediatric Risk of Mortality score.

RESULTS

Requests for pediatric neurosurgical care comprised 400 (3.7%) of a total of 10,833 calls. Of 400 transfer admissions, 96.5%, 2.8%, and 0.8% were in the low, moderate, and high mortality risk groups, respectively. The median age was 54 months, and 45% were female. The median transit time was 125 minutes. The majority of transfers were after-hours (69.8%); nearly a third occurred during the weekend (32.3%). The median intensive care unit stay for 103 patients was 3 days (range 1–269 days). Median length of hospital stay was 2 days (range 1–269 days). Ninety patients (22.5%) were discharged from the emergency room after transfer. Seventy-seven patients (19.3%) required neurosurgical intervention after transfer, with the majority requiring a cranial procedure (66.2%); 87.3% of patients were discharged home.

CONCLUSIONS

This study highlights patient characteristics, resource utilization, and outcomes among pediatric neurosurgical patients. Opportunities for quality improvement were identified in diagnosing and managing isolated skull fractures and neck pain after trauma.