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Raafat R. Yahya, Peter Dirks, Robin Humphreys, James T. Rutka, Michael Taylor and James M. Drake


Television tipover has recently been recognized as a significant cause of injury in children, and head injury accounts for most of the associated deaths. The authors reviewed their experience with children who sustained head injury from falling televisions.


Children admitted with the diagnosis of head injury related to falling televisions since 1992 were identified from the authors' trauma database, and a retrospective review of the medical records was performed.

Eighteen patients were identified: 13 boys and five girls whose ages ranged from 12 months to 10 years (mean 44 months). The admission Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score was 15 in 10 patients. Only three patients had a GCS score of 8 or less (one patient had a score of 4). Neurological examinations were normal in 10 patients; three had cranial nerve deficits and three had otorrhea, otorrhagia, or hemotympanum. Radiological abnormalities included 16 skull fractures, three epidural hematomas, three small subdural hematomas, one intracranial hemorrhage, and three venous obstructions of the transverse—sigmoid sinus. The mean hospital stay was 8.9 days (range 2–39 days). Follow up at 0.2 to 68 months (mean 13.4 months) revealed severe neurological deficits in one patient and cranial nerve deficits of cranial nerves six, seven, or eight in six patients.


Falling televisions result in significant head injuries in children, with substantial short- and long-term sequelae. This injury is easily preventable through simple measures taken by both the manufacturers and caregivers.

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James M. Drake

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Jack M. Fletcher, Kim Copeland, Jon A. Frederick, Susan E. Blaser, Larry A. Kramer, Hope Northrup, H. Julia Hannay, Michael E. Brandt, David J. Francis, Grace Villarreal, James M. Drake, John P. Laurent, Irene Townsend, Susan Inwood, Amy Boudousquie and Maureen Dennis

Object. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether the level of a spinal lesion is associated with variations in anomalous brain development and neurobehavioral outcomes in children suffering from the meningomyelocele form of spina bifida and hydrocephalus (SBM-H).

Methods. Two hundred sixty-eight children with SBM-H were divided into upper (T-12 and above; 82 patients) and lower (L-1 and below; 186 patients) lesion-level groups. Magnetic resonance images were qualitatively coded by radiologists and quantitatively segmented for cerebrum and cerebellum volumes. Psychometric assessments of handedness, intelligence, academic skills, and adaptive behavior were compared between lesion-level groups and also used to determine the number of children who met research-based criteria for mental retardation, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and learning disabilities.

The magnetic resonance images obtained in children with upper-level spinal lesions demonstrated more qualitative abnormalities in the midbrain and tectum, pons, and splenium, although not in the cerebellum, compared with images obtained in children with lower-level spinal lesions. Upper-level lesions were also associated with reductions in cerebrum and cerebellum volumes, lower scores on measures of intelligence, academic skills, and adaptive behavior, and with a higher frequency of individuals meeting the criteria for mental retardation. Hispanic children (who were also more economically disadvantaged) were more likely to have upper-level lesions and poorer neurobehavioral outcomes, but lesion-level effects were generally independent of ethnicity.

Conclusions. A higher level of spinal lesion in SBM-H is a marker for more severe anomalous brain development, which is in turn associated with poorer neurobehavioral outcomes in a wide variety of domains that determine levels of independent functioning for these children at home and school.

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Abhaya V. Kulkarni, Doron Rabin and James M. Drake

Object. In the measurement of clinical outcome in pediatric patients with hydrocephalus the condition's effects on a child's physical, emotional, cognitive, and social health are frequently ignored. The authors developed a quantitative health status measure, the Hydrocephalus Outcome Questionnaire (HOQ), designed specifically for children with hydrocephalus, which can be completed by the children's parents.

Methods. The standardized steps in the development of a health status measure were followed. Item generation required involvement of health professionals and focus groups with parents of children with hydrocephalus. A comprehensive list of 165 unique health status items was thus generated. To streamline the list, questionnaires were sent to 69 sets of parents to solicit their opinions regarding the most important of these health issues, and the 51 most significant items were then selected to represent the following health domains: physical, social-emotional, and cognitive. In another cohort of 90 sets of parents, the 51-item questionnaire was then tested for reliability and construct validity against the following independent measures of specific components of health: Health Utilities Index, Wide Range Achievement Reading Test, Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaires, and Functional Independence Measure for Children.

The HOQ took approximately 10 to 15 minutes for the parents to complete and demonstrated excellent test—retest reliability (0.93, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.88–0.96), interrater reliability (0.88, 95% CI 0.79–0.93), and internal consistency (Cronbach alpha 0.94). Pearson correlation testing demonstrated very good construct validity between domain scores and their respective independent measures.

Conclusions. The HOQ for children with hydrocephalus demonstrated excellent reliability and validity properties. This tool will be valuable for a wide range of clinical research projects in pediatric hydrocephalus.

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Abhaya V. Kulkarni, James M. Drake, Doron Rabin, Peter B. Dirks, Robin P. Humphreys and James T. Rutka

Object. In the preceding article, the authors described the Hydrocephalus Outcome Questionnaire (HOQ), a simple, reliable, and valid measure of health status in children with hydrocephalus. In the present study, they present their initial experience in using the HOQ to quantify the health status in a typical cohort of children with hydrocephalus.

Methods. The mothers of children with hydrocephalus completed the HOQ and, with the child's attending surgeon, provided a global rating of their children's health. An exploratory analysis was performed using a multivariate analysis of variance (ANOVA) to determine which variables might be associated with worse health status.

The mothers of 80 children, ranging in age from 5 to 17 years, participated in the study. The mean HOQ Overall Health score was 0.68, a value estimated to be equivalent to a mean health utility score of 0.77. The global health ratings provided by the mothers and the surgeons were moderately correlated with the HOQ scores (Pearson correlations 0.58 and 0.57, respectively). Results of the multivariate ANOVA indicated that the presence of epilepsy was strongly associated with a worse health status (p < 0.0001, F-test).

Conclusions. The health status of a typical sample of children with hydrocephalus was measured using the HOQ. The only consistently significant association with health status found was the presence of epilepsy.

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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.

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Patrick A. Lo, James M. Drake, Douglas Hedden, Pradeep Narotam and Peter B. Dirks

✓ Neck injuries in children most commonly affect the upper cervical spine. Injuries of the transverse ligament and its attachments may result in C1–2 instability, but the optimum form of treatment is unknown.

Three patients, who ranged in age from 5 to 11 years, sustained transverse atlantal ligament injuries with unilateral avulsion fracture of the osseous tubercle of C-1. One child was injured in a fall and two were involved in motor vehicle accidents. Although all patients presented with neck pain, none exhibited neurological deficits. Plain radiography demonstrated no evidence of osseous injury, but an increased predental interval was noted in each case. Computerized tomography (CT) scanning demonstrated the avulsion fractures, and magnetic resonance imaging revealed evidence of soft-tissue injuries in the occipital—C2 ligamentous complex. All children were managed with external immobilization (halo vest in two and a Sterno-Occipito-Mandibular Immobilizer brace in one), for 6 to 12 weeks. Follow-up CT scanning demonstrated reattachment of the avulsed osseous tubercle, and dynamic cervical spine radiographs revealed the absence of C1–2 instability.

The results of these cases suggest a role for external immobilization in the treatment of osseous avulsion injuries of the transverse atlantal ligament in children.

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Abhaya V. Kulkarni, James M. Drake and Maria Lamberti-Pasculli

Object. Hydrocephalus is a common condition of childhood that usually requires insertion of a cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) shunt. Infection is one of the most devastating complications that may arise from the presence of CSF shunts. In this study, the authors prospectively analyzed perioperative risk factors for CSF shunt infection in a cohort of children.

Methods. Between 1996 and 1999, 299 eligible patients underwent CSF shunt operations (insertions and revisions) that were observed by a research nurse at a tertiary care pediatric hospital. Several perioperative variables were recorded. All cases were followed postoperatively for 6 months to note any development of CSF shunt infection. A Cox proportional hazards model was used to analyze the relationship between the variables and the development of shunt infection.

Thirty-one patients (10.4%) experienced shunt infection. Three perioperative variables were significantly associated with an increased risk of shunt infection: 1) the presence of a postoperative CSF leak (hazard ratio [HR] 19.16, 95% confidence interval [CI] 6.96–52.91); 2) patient prematurity (< 40 weeks' gestation at the time of shunt surgery: HR 4.72, 95% CI 1.71–13.06); and 3) the number of times the shunt system was inadvertently exposed to breached surgical gloves (HR 1.07, 95% CI 1.02–1.12).

Conclusions. Three variables associated with an increased incidence of shunt infection have been identified. Changes in clinical practice should address these variables, as follows. 1) Great care should be taken intraoperatively to avoid a postoperative CSF leak. 2) Alternatives to placement of a CSF shunt in premature infants should be studied. 3) Surgeons should minimize manual contact with the shunt system and consider the use of double gloves.