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Jack Lam, Patricia Tomaszewski, Guillaume Gilbert, Jeremy T. Moreau, Marie-Christine Guiot, Steffen Albrecht, Jean-Pierre Farmer, Jeffrey Atkinson, Christine Saint-Martin, Pia Wintermark, Boris Bernhardt, Sylvain Baillet, and Roy W. R. Dudley

OBJECTIVE

The authors sought to assess the utility of arterial spin labeling (ASL) perfusion 3T-MRI for the presurgical evaluation of poorly defined focal epilepsy in pediatric patients.

METHODS

Pseudocontinuous ASL perfusion 3T-MRI was performed in 25 consecutive children with poorly defined focal epilepsy. ASL perfusion abnormalities were detected qualitatively by visual inspection and quantitatively by calculating asymmetry index (AI) maps and significant z-score cluster maps based on successfully operated cases. ASL results were prospectively compared to scalp EEG, structural 3T-MRI, FDG-PET, ictal/interictal SPECT, magnetoencephalography (MEG), and intracranial recording results, as well as the final surgically proven epileptogenic zone (EZ) in operated patients who had at least 1 year of good (Engel class I/II) seizure outcome and positive histopathology results.

RESULTS

Qualitative ASL perfusion abnormalities were found in 17/25 cases (68%), specifically in 17/20 MRI-positive cases (85.0%) and in none of the 5 MRI-negative cases. ASL was concordant with localizing scalp EEG findings in 66.7%, structural 3T-MRI in 90%, FDG-PET in 75%, ictal/interictal SPECT in 62.5%, and MEG in 75% of cases, and with intracranial recording results in 40% of cases. Eleven patients underwent surgery; in all 11 cases the EZ was surgically proven by positive histopathology results and the patient having at least 1 year of good seizure outcome. ASL results were concordant with this final surgically proven EZ in 10/11 cases (sensitivity 91%, specificity 50%). All 10 ASL-positive patients who underwent surgery had positive surgical pathology results and good long-term postsurgical seizure outcome at a mean follow-up of 39 months. Retrospective quantitative analysis based on significant z-score clusters found 1 true-positive result that was missed by qualitative analysis and 3 additional false-positive results (sensitivity 100%, specificity 23%).

CONCLUSIONS

ASL supports the hypothesis regarding the EZ in poorly defined focal epilepsy cases in children. Due to its convenience and noninvasive nature, the authors recommend that ASL be added routinely to the presurgical MRI evaluation of epilepsy. Future optimized quantitative methods may improve the diagnostic yield of this technique.

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Elsa V. Arocho-Quinones, Sean M. Lew, and Andrew B. Foy

OBJECTIVE

The management of children with ping-pong skull fractures may include observation, nonsurgical treatments, or surgical intervention depending on the age, clinical presentation, imaging findings, and cosmetic appearance of the patient. There have been 16 publications on nonsurgical treatment using negative pressure with various devices. Herein, the authors report their experience with vacuum-assisted elevation of ping-pong skull fractures and evaluate the variables affecting procedural outcomes.

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective chart review of all ping-pong skull fractures treated via vacuum-assisted elevation at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin between 2013 and 2017. Data collected included patient age, head circumference, mode of injury, time to presentation, imaging findings, procedural details, treatment outcomes, and complications.

RESULTS

Four neonates and 5 infants underwent vacuum-assisted elevation of moderate to severe ping-pong skull fractures during the study period. Modes of injury included birth-related trauma, falls, and blunt trauma. All patients had normal neurological examination findings and no evidence of intracranial hemorrhage. All fractures were deemed severe enough to require elevation by the treating neurosurgeon. All fractures involved the parietal bone. Skull depressions ranged from 23 to 62 mm in diameter and from 4 to 14 mm in depth. Bone thickness ranged from 0.6 to 1.8 mm. The time from fracture to intervention ranged from 7 hours to 8 days. The Kiwi OmniCup vacuum delivery system was used in all cases. Negative pressures were increased sequentially to a maximum of 500 mm Hg. A greater number of sequential vacuum applications was required for patients with a skull thickness greater than 1 mm at the site of depression and for those undergoing treatment more than 72 hours from fracture onset. Successful fracture elevation was attained in 7 of 9 patients. Two patients required subsequent surgical elevation of their fractures. Postprocedure imaging studies revealed no evidence of complications.

CONCLUSIONS

Increasing bone thickness and time from fracture onset to intervention appeared to be the greatest limiting factors to the successful elevation of moderate to severe ping-pong fractures via this vacuum-assisted approach. This procedure is a well-tolerated option that should be considered prior to performing an open repair in cases deemed to require fracture elevation. Future efforts will focus on larger-volume studies to better delineate inclusion and exclusion criteria, and volumetric analysis for better fracture-to-suction device customization.

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Nicholas M. Rabah, Hammad A. Khan, Jay M. Levin, Robert D. Winkelman, Thomas E. Mroz, and Michael P. Steinmetz

OBJECTIVE

The Clinician and Group Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CG-CAHPS) survey was developed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as a result of their value-based purchasing initiative. It allows patients to rate their experience with their provider in the outpatient setting. This presents a unique situation in healthcare in which the patient experience drives the marketplace, and since its creation, providers have sought to improve patient satisfaction. Within the spine surgery setting, however, the question remains whether improved patient satisfaction correlates with improved outcomes.

METHODS

All patients who had undergone lumbar spine surgery between 2009 and 2017 and who completed a CG-CAHPS survey after their procedure were studied. Demographic and surgical characteristics were then obtained. The primary outcomes of this study include patient-reported health outcomes measures such as the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System Global Health (PROMIS-GH) surveys for both mental health (PROMIS-GH-MH) and physical health (PROMIS-GH-PH), and the visual analog scale for back pain (VAS-BP). A multivariable linear regression analysis was used to assess whether patient satisfaction with their provider was associated with changes in each health status measure after adjusting for potential confounders.

RESULTS

The study population included 647 patients who had undergone lumbar spine surgery. Of these, 564 (87%) indicated that they were satisfied with the care they received. Demographic and surgical characteristics were largely similar between the two groups. Multivariable linear regression demonstrated that patient satisfaction with their provider was not a significant predictor of change in two of the three patient-reported outcomes (PROMIS-GH-MH and PROMIS-GH-PH) assessed at 1 year. However, top-box patient satisfaction with their provider was a significant predictor of improvement in VAS-BP scores at 1 year.

CONCLUSIONS

The authors found that after adjusting for patient-level covariates such as age, diagnosis of disc displacement, self-reported mental health, self-reported overall health, and preoperative patient-reported outcome measure status, a significant association was observed between top-box overall provider rating and 1-year improvement in VAS-BP, but no such association was observed for PROMIS-GH-PH and PROMIS-GH-MH. This suggests that pain-related outcome measures may serve as better predictors of patients’ satisfaction with their spine surgeons. Furthermore, this suggests that the current method by which patient satisfaction is being assessed and publicly reported may not necessarily correlate with validated measures that are used within the spine surgery setting to assess surgical efficacy.

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Gloria Moreno-Madueño, Mónica Rivero-Garvía, Jorge Tirado-Caballero, and Javier Márquez-Rivas

Split cord malformation (SCM) is a term used for all double spinal cords. It represents 3.8%–5% of spinal dysraphisms. Pang et al.’s embryological theory proposes the formation of an “accessory neurenteric canal” that communicates with the yolk sac and amnion. To the authors’ knowledge, only three cases of diastematobulbia (basicranial SCM) associated with a spur or dermoid have been reported in the literature.

The case patient is a newborn girl with an occipitocervical meningocele and dermal sinus associated with an anomaly of notochordal development in the transition between the medulla oblongata and the spinal cord (diastematobulbia) without a bony septum or dermoid cyst. The patient also has agenesis of the atlas and an absence of corticospinal tract decussation. This patient underwent reconstruction of the occipital meningocele and dermal sinus excision.

To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first described case of type II diastematobulbia (basicranial SCM), without a dermoid cyst. The authors analyzed the embryological errors present in the case patient and considered the option of further surgical treatment depending on the evolution of the patient’s condition. At the time of this report, the patient had shown normal psychomotor development. However, this fact may only be due to the patient’s young age. Considering that after initial untethering the patient remained clinically asymptomatic, conservative and close surveillance has been and continues to be the proposed treatment.

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Nathan A. Shlobin, Melissa A. LoPresti, Rebecca Y. Du, and Sandi Lam

OBJECTIVE

Neural tube defects (NTDs) are common congenital neurological defects, resulting in mortality, morbidity, and impaired quality of life for patients and caregivers. While public health interventions that increase folate consumption among women who are or plan to become pregnant are shown to reduce folate-sensitive NTDs, public health policy reflecting the scientific evidence lags behind. The authors aimed to identify the types of policies applied, associated outcomes, and impact of folate fortification and supplementation on NTDs worldwide. By identifying effective legislation, the authors aim to focus advocacy efforts to more broadly effect change, reducing the burden of NTDs in neurosurgery.

METHODS

A systematic review was conducted exploring folate fortification and supplementation policies using the PubMed and Scopus databases. Titles and abstracts from articles identified were read and selected for full-text review. Studies meeting inclusion criteria were reviewed in full and analyzed for study design, aim, population, interventions, and outcomes.

RESULTS

Of 1637 resultant articles, 54 were included. Mandatory folate fortification was effective at reducing folate-sensitive NTDs. Mandatory fortification also decreased hospitalization rates and deaths after discharge and increased 1st-year survival for infants with NTDs. Recommended folate supplementation also resulted in decreased NTDs; however, issues with compliance and adherence were a concern and impacted effectiveness. Folate fortification and/or supplementation resulted in decreased NTD prevalence, although more change was attributed to fortification. Dual policies may hold the most promise. Furthermore, reductions in NTDs were associated with significant cost savings over time.

CONCLUSIONS

Both mandatory folate fortification and recommended supplementation policies were found to effectively decrease folate-sensitive NTD rates when applied. A comprehensive approach incorporating mandatory folate fortification, appropriate folate supplementation, and improved infrastructure and access to prenatal care may lead to decreased NTDs worldwide. This approach should be context-specific, emphasize education, and account for regional access to healthcare and social determinants of health. With wide implications for NTDs, associated health outcomes, quality of life of patients and caregivers, and economic impacts, policy changes can drastically improve global NTD outcomes. As caretakers of children with NTDs, the authors as neurosurgeons advocate for a comprehensive policy, the engagement of stakeholders, and a broader global impact.

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Gregory W. Basil, Annelise C. Sprau, Zoher Ghogawala, Jang W. Yoon, and Michael Y. Wang

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Chong-Suh Lee, Jin-Sung Park, Yunjin Nam, Youn-Taek Choi, and Se-Jun Park

OBJECTIVE

It has been well documented that optimal sagittal alignment is highly correlated with good clinical outcomes in adult spinal deformity (ASD) surgery. However, it remains to be determined whether the clinical benefit of appropriately corrected sagittal alignment can be maintained in the long term. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate whether appropriately corrected sagittal alignment continues to offer benefits over time with regard to clinical outcomes and mechanical failure.

METHODS

Patients older than 50 years who underwent ≥ 4-level fusion for ASD and were followed up for ≥ 5 years were included in this study. Appropriateness of sagittal alignment correction was defined as pelvic incidence minus lumbar lordosis ≤ 10°, pelvic tilt ≤ 25°, and sagittal vertical axis ≤ 50 mm. Two groups were created based on this appropriateness: group A (appropriate) and group IA (inappropriate). Clinical outcomes were evaluated using the visual analog scale (VAS), Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), and Scoliosis Research Society Outcomes Questionnaire–22 (SRS-22). The development of mechanical failures, such as rod fracture and proximal junctional kyphosis (PJK), was compared between the two groups.

RESULTS

The study included 90 patients with a follow-up duration of 90.3 months. There were 30 patients in group A and 60 patients in group IA. The clinical outcomes at 2 years were significantly better in group A than in group IA in terms of the VAS scores, ODI scores, and all domains of SRS-22. At the final follow-up visit, back VAS and ODI scores were still lower in group A than they were in group IA, but the VAS score for leg pain did not differ between the groups. The SRS-22 score at the final follow-up showed that only the pain and self-image/appearance domains and the total sum were significantly higher in group A than in group IA. The incidence of rod fracture and PJK did not differ between the two groups. The rate of revision surgery for rod fracture or PJK was also similar between the two groups.

CONCLUSIONS

The clinical benefits from appropriate correction of sagittal alignment continued for a mean of 90.3 months. However, the intergroup difference in clinical outcomes between groups A and IA decreased over time. The development of rod fracture or PJK was not affected by the appropriateness of sagittal alignment.

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Lisa Goudman, Ann De Smedt, Koen Putman, Maarten Moens, and the Discover Consortium

OBJECTIVE

In recent years, the use of high-dose spinal cord stimulation (HD-SCS) as a treatment option for patients with failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) has drastically increased. However, to the authors’ knowledge a thorough evaluation of health-related quality of life (HRQOL) and work status in these patients has not yet been performed. Moreover, it is unclear whether patients who are treated with HD-SCS can regain the same levels of HRQOL as the general population. Therefore, the aims of this study were to compare the HRQOL of patients who receive HD-SCS to HRQOL values in an age- and sex-adjusted population without FBSS and to evaluate work status in patients who are receiving HD-SCS.

METHODS

HRQOL, measured with the 3-level EQ-5D (EQ-5D-3L), and work status were evaluated in 185 FBSS patients at baseline (i.e., before SCS) and at 1, 3, and 12 months of treatment with HD-SCS. Difference scores in utility values between patients and an age- and sex-adjusted normal population were calculated. One-sample Wilcoxon tests were used to assess the EQ-5D-3L difference scores. Mixed models were used to evaluate the evolution over time in EQ-5D-3L utility scores and EQ-5D visual analog scale (VAS) scores in patients and matched controls. Quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) were calculated using the area under the curve method.

RESULTS

An overall significant increase in EQ-5D-3L utility scores and EQ-5D VAS scores was found over time in the patient group. Wilcoxon tests indicated that the difference scores in utility values between patients and the normal population were significantly different from zero at all time points. The median incremental QALY after 12 months of HD-SCS was 0.228 (Q1–Q3: 0.005–0.487) in comparison to continued conservative treatment. At 12 months, 13.75% of patients resumed work.

CONCLUSIONS

HD-SCS may lead to significantly increased HRQOL at 12 months in patients with FBSS. Despite the increase, reaching the HRQOL level of matched controls was not achieved. Only a limited number of patients were able to return to work. This finding indicates that specialized programs to enhance return to work may be beneficial for patients undergoing SCS.

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Zeferino Demartini Jr., Gelson Luis Koppe, Bernardo Corrêa de Almeida Teixeira, Adriano Keijiro, Alexandre Novicki Francisco, and Luana Antunes Maranha Gatto

OBJECTIVE

Cerebral pial arteriovenous fistula (AVF) is a rare vascular malformation and may cause hemorrhage and neurological deficit. The presence of high-flow shunts constitutes a challenge when performing the endovascular technique, due to risk of distal embolization. The authors report a simple maneuver, adapted from the Matas test, that was successfully applied to treat a child with two pial AVFs.

METHODS

An 8-year-old boy presented with headache and vomiting due to two single-channel high-flow intracerebral pial AVFs. He was treated with an endovascular approach using brief, gentle compression of the ipsilateral cervical carotid artery. The temporary flow arrest ensured proper placement of the first coil, allowing definitive obliteration of the shunt.

RESULTS

There were no complications with the procedure, and the patient recovered uneventfully. Throughout the 9-month follow-up, the patient experienced a stable neurological condition, with both fistulas occluded and improvement of local circulation.

CONCLUSIONS

This easy-to-perform maneuver allows precise positioning of embolic material into high-flow shunts to facilitate treatment of pial AVF.

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Hirotaka Hasegawa, Jamie J. Van Gompel, W. Richard Marsh, Robert E. Wharen Jr., Richard S. Zimmerman, David B. Burkholder, Brian N. Lundstrom, Jeffrey W. Britton, and Fredric B. Meyer

OBJECTIVE

Surgical site infection (SSI) is a rare but significant complication after vagus nerve stimulator (VNS) placement. Treatment options range from antibiotic therapy alone to hardware removal. The optimal therapeutic strategy remains open to debate. Therefore, the authors conducted this retrospective multicenter analysis to provide insight into the optimal management of VNS-related SSI (VNS-SSI).

METHODS

Under institutional review board approval and utilizing an institutional database with 641 patients who had undergone 808 VNS-related placement surgeries and 31 patients who had undergone VNS-related hardware removal surgeries, the authors retrospectively analyzed VNS-SSI.

RESULTS

Sixteen cases of VNS-SSI were identified; 12 of them had undergone the original VNS placement procedure at the authors’ institutions. Thus, the incidence of VNS-SSI was calculated as 1.5%. The mean (± standard deviation) time from the most recent VNS-related surgeries to infection was 42 (± 27) days. Methicillin-sensitive staphylococcus was the usual causative bacteria (58%). Initial treatments included antibiotics with or without nonsurgical procedures (n = 6), nonremoval open surgeries for irrigation (n = 3), generator removal (n = 3), and total or near-total removal of hardware (n = 4). Although 2 patients were successfully treated with antibiotics alone or combined with generator removal, removal of both the generator and leads was eventually required in 14 patients. Mild swallowing difficulties and hoarseness occurred in 2 patients with eventual resolution.

CONCLUSIONS

Removal of the VNS including electrode leads combined with antibiotic administration is the definitive treatment but has a risk of causing dysphagia. If the surgeon finds dense scarring around the vagus nerve, the prudent approach is to snip the electrode close to the nerve as opposed to attempting to unwind the lead completely.