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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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Kyung Shin Kang, Jeff Lastfogel, Laurie L. Ackerman, Andrew Jea, Alexander G. Robling and Sunil S. Tholpady

OBJECTIVE

Cranial defects can result from trauma, infection, congenital malformations, and iatrogenic causes and represent a surgical challenge. The current standard of care is cranioplasty, with either autologous or allogeneic material. In either case, the intrinsic vascularity of the surrounding tissues allows for bone healing. The objective of this study was to determine if mechanotransductive gene manipulation would yield non–weight-bearing bone regeneration in a critical size calvarial defect in mice.

METHODS

A mouse model of Sost deletion in Sost knockout (KO) mice was created in which the osteocytes do not express sclerostin. A critical size calvarial defect (4 mm in diameter) was surgically created in the parietal bone in 8-week-old wild-type (n = 8) and Sost KO (n = 8) male mice. The defects were left undisturbed (no implant or scaffold) to simulate a traumatic calvariectomy model. Eight weeks later, the animals were examined at necropsy by planimetry, histological analysis of new bone growth, and micro-CT scanning of bone thickness.

RESULTS

Defects created in wild-type mice did not fill with bone over the study period of 2 months. Genetic downregulation of sclerostin yielded animals that were able to regenerate 40% of the initial critical size defect area 8 weeks after surgery. A thin layer of bone covered a significant portion of the original defect in all Sost KO animals. A statistically significant increase in bone volume (p < 0.05) was measured in Sost KO mice using radiodensitometric analysis. Immunohistochemical analysis also confirmed that this bone regeneration occurred through the Wnt pathway and originated from the edge of the defect; BMP signaling did not appear to be affected by sclerostin.

CONCLUSIONS

Mechanical loading is an important mechanism of bone formation in the cranial skeleton and is poorly understood. This is partially due to the fact that it is difficult to load bone in the craniomaxillofacial skeleton. This study suggests that modulation of the Wnt pathway, as is able to be done with monoclonal antibodies, is a potentially efficacious method for bone regeneration that requires further study.

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Stephen K. Mendenhall, Andrew Huh, Janit Pandya, Vincent Alentado, Karl Balsara, Chang Ho and Andrew Jea

OBJECTIVE

The revelation of normative radiographic measurements for the developing pediatric spine is incomplete. The purpose of this analysis was to determine the normal range of asymmetry of the lateral atlantodental interval (LADI) and define age- and sex-related differences.

METHODS

A total of 3072 children aged 0–18 years who underwent CT scanning of the cervical spine were identified at Riley Hospital for Children between 2005 and 2017. Patients were stratified by sex and age (in years) into 36 cohorts. Following this stratification, patients within each group were randomly selected for inclusion until 15 patients in each group had been measured (quota sampling). A total of 540 patients were included for study. Right and left linear measurements were performed in the CT axial plane at the C-1 midlateral mass level.

RESULTS

The overall mean difference between the right and left LADI was 0.09 ± 1.23 mm (range -6.05 to 4.87 mm). The magnitude of this asymmetry remained statistically insignificant across age groups (p = 0.278) and sex (p = 0.889). The intraclass correlation coefficient was 0.805 (95% CI 0.779–0.829).

CONCLUSIONS

Asymmetry of the LADI is not unusual in asymptomatic children. There is no appreciable difference in magnitude of this asymmetry across age ranges and sex. Measurement of LADI asymmetry shows “good” reliability and is easy to perform. Pediatric neurosurgeons, emergency department physicians, and radiologists should be aware of normative values of asymmetry when interpreting CT scans of the cervical spine. This may prevent unnecessary further workup with dynamic CT or MRI.

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Laurie L. Ackerman, Daniel H. Fulkerson, Andrew Jea and Jodi L. Smith

OBJECTIVE

Patients with shunts often interact with providers distant from their primary hospital, making it important that the parent(s)/guardian(s) is well versed in the type of shunt implanted and symptoms of malfunction/infection. This is particularly important with magnetic-sensitive programmable valves, as the use of MRI becomes more prevalent.

METHODS

Over a 6-month period, primary caregivers of 148 consecutive patients who received shunts were prospectively administered questionnaires at clinic visits. Caregivers were asked to do the following: 1) identify shunt valve name, type, and setting if applicable; 2) list symptoms of shunt malfunction/infection; and 3) indicate whether they had access to references regarding shunt type/setting, booklets from the Hydrocephalus Association, and quick reference cards with symptoms of shunt malfunction/infection. One cohort of caregivers (n = 75) was asked to carry informational cards with shunt valve/setting information (group I); this cohort was compared with another subgroup of caregivers (n = 73) not carrying cards (group II).

RESULTS

The mean (± SD) age of patients at implantation/revision was 3.71 ± 4.91 years, and the age at follow-up was 6.12 ± 5.4 years. The average time from surgery to administration of the questionnaire was 2.38 ± 3.22 years. There were 86 new shunt insertions and 62 revisions. One hundred twenty-eight caregivers (87%) could identify the type of valve (programmable vs nonprogrammable). On the other hand, only 72 caregivers (49%) could identify the valve name. Fifty-four of 73 (74%) caregivers of patients who had shunts with programmable valves could correctly identify the valve setting. One hundred caregivers (68%) had a copy of the Hydrocephalus Association booklet, and 103 (70%) had quick reference cards. Eighty caregivers (54%) had references on shunt type/setting. Most caregivers (127 [86%]) could name ≥ 3 signs/symptoms of shunt malfunction, with vomiting (61%), headache (49%), and sleeps more/lethargic (35%) most frequently reported. Caregivers of patients in group I were more likely to have cards with symptoms of shunt infection or malfunction (p = 0.015); have information cards regarding shunt type/setting (p < 0.001); and correctly identify valve type (p = 0.001), name (p < 0.001), and setting if programmable (p = 0.0016). There were no differences in ability to list symptoms of shunt malfunction or infection (p = 0.8812) or in access to Hydrocephalus Association booklets (p = 0.1288). There were no significant demographic differences between the groups, except that group I patients had a shorter time from surgery to last follow-up (1.66 vs 3.17 years; p = 0.0001).

CONCLUSIONS

Education regarding the care of patients with shunts by providing written cards with shunt type/setting and access to reference materials seems to be effective. Developing plans for guided instruction with assessment in the clinic setting of a caregiver’s knowledge is important for patient safety.

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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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Jonathan N. Sellin, Jeffrey S. Raskin, Kristen A. Staggers, Alison Brayton, Valentina Briceño, Amee J. Moreno and Andrew Jea

Thoracic and lumbar cortical bone trajectory pedicle screws have been described in adult spine surgery. They have likewise been described in pediatric CT-based morphometric studies; however, clinical experience in the pediatric age group is limited. The authors here describe the use of cortical bone trajectory pedicle screws in posterior instrumented spinal fusions from the upper thoracic to the lumbar spine in 12 children. This dedicated study represents the initial use of cortical screws in pediatric spine surgery.

The authors retrospectively reviewed the demographics and procedural data of patients who had undergone posterior instrumented fusion using thoracic, lumbar, and sacral cortical screws in children for the following indications: spondylolysis and/or spondylolisthesis (5 patients), unstable thoracolumbar spine trauma (3 patients), scoliosis (2 patients), and tumor (2 patients).

Twelve pediatric patients, ranging in age from 11 to 18 years (mean 15.4 years), underwent posterior instrumented fusion. Seventy-six cortical bone trajectory pedicle screws were placed. There were 33 thoracic screws and 43 lumbar screws. Patients underwent surgery between April 29, 2015, and February 1, 2016. Seven (70%) of 10 patients with available imaging achieved a solid fusion, as assessed by CT. Mean follow-up time was 16.8 months (range 13–22 months). There were no intraoperative complications directly related to the cortical bone trajectory screws. One patient required hardware revision for caudal instrumentation failure and screw-head fracture at 3 months after surgery.

Mean surgical time was 277 minutes (range 120–542 minutes). Nine of the 12 patients received either a 12- or 24-mg dose of recombinant human bone morphogenic protein 2. Average estimated blood loss was 283 ml (range 25–1100 ml).

In our preliminary experience, the cortical bone trajectory pedicle screw technique seems to be a reasonable alternative to the traditional trajectory pedicle screw placement in children. Cortical screws seem to offer satisfactory clinical and radiographic outcomes, with a low complication profile.

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Ali A. Baaj, Douglas Brockmeyer, Andrew Jea and Amer F. Samdani

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Thomas J. Gianaris, Ryan Nazar, Emily Middlebrook, David D. Gonda, Andrew Jea and Daniel H. Fulkerson

OBJECTIVE

Endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) is a surgical alternative to placing a CSF shunt in certain patients with hydrocephalus. The ETV Success Score (ETVSS) is a reliable, simple method to estimate the success of the procedure by 6 months of postoperative follow-up. The highest score is 90, estimating a 90% chance of the ETV effectively treating hydrocephalus without requiring a shunt. Treatment with ETV fails in certain patients, despite their being the theoretically best candidates for the procedure. In this study the authors attempted to identify factors that further predicted success in patients with the highest ETVSSs.

METHODS

A retrospective review was performed of all patients treated with ETV at 3 institutions. Demographic, radiological, and clinical data were recorded. All patients by definition were older than 1 year, had obstructive hydrocephalus, and did not have a prior shunt. Failure of ETV was defined as the need for a shunt by 1 year. The ETV was considered a success if the patient did not require another surgery (either shunt placement or a repeat endoscopic procedure) by 1 year. A statistical analysis was performed to identify factors associated with success or failure.

RESULTS

Fifty-nine patients met the entry criteria for the study. Eleven patients (18.6%) required further surgery by 1 year. All of these patients received a shunt. The presenting symptom of lethargy statistically correlated with success (p = 0.0126, odds ratio [OR] = 0.072). The preoperative radiological finding of transependymal flow (p = 0.0375, OR 0.158) correlated with success. A postoperative larger maximum width of the third ventricle correlated with failure (p = 0.0265).

CONCLUSIONS

The preoperative findings of lethargy and transependymal flow statistically correlated with success. This suggests that the best candidates for ETV are those with a relatively acute elevation of intracranial pressure. Cases without these findings may represent the failures in this highly selected group.

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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.