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Prospective multicenter studies in pediatric hydrocephalus

JNSPG 75th Anniversary Invited Review Article

John R. W. Kestle and Jay Riva-Cambrin

Prospective multicenter clinical research studies in pediatric hydrocephalus are relatively rare. They cover a broad spectrum of hydrocephalus topics, including management of intraventricular hemorrhage in premature infants, shunt techniques and equipment, shunt outcomes, endoscopic treatment of hydrocephalus, and prevention and treatment of infection. The research methodologies include randomized trials, cohort studies, and registry-based studies. This review describes prospective multicenter studies in pediatric hydrocephalus since 1990. Many studies have included all forms of hydrocephalus and used device or procedure failure as the primary outcome. Although such studies have yielded useful findings, they might miss important treatment effects in specific subgroups. As multicenter study networks grow, larger patient numbers will allow studies with more focused entry criteria based on known and evolving prognostic factors. In addition, increased use of patient-centered outcomes such as neurodevelopmental assessment and quality of life should be measured and emphasized in study results. Well-planned multicenter clinical studies can significantly affect the care of children with hydrocephalus and will continue to have an important role in improving care for these children and their families.

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John R. W. Kestle, Amy Lee, Richard C. E. Anderson, Barbu Gociman, Kamlesh B. Patel, Matthew D. Smyth, Craig Birgfeld, Ian F. Pollack, Jesse A. Goldstein, Mandeep Tamber, Thomas Imahiyerobo, Faizi A. Siddiqi and for the Synostosis Research Group

OBJECTIVE

The authors created a collaborative network, the Synostosis Research Group (SynRG), to facilitate multicenter clinical research on craniosynostosis. To identify common and differing practice patterns within the network, they assessed the SynRG surgeons’ management preferences for sagittal synostosis. These results will be incorporated into planning cooperative studies.

METHODS

The SynRG consists of 12 surgeons at 5 clinical sites. An email survey was distributed to SynRG surgeons in late 2016, and responses were collected through early 2017. Responses were collated and analyzed descriptively.

RESULTS

All of the surgeons—7 plastic/craniofacial surgeons and 5 neurosurgeons—completed the survey. They varied in both experience (1–24 years) and sagittal synostosis case volume in the preceding year (5–45 cases). Three sites routinely perform preoperative CT scans. The preferred surgical technique for children younger than 3 months is strip craniectomy (10/12 surgeons), whereas children older than 6 months are all treated with open cranial vault surgery. Pre-incision cefazolin, preoperative complete blood count panels, and an arterial line were used by most surgeons, but tranexamic acid was used routinely at 3 sites and never at the other 2 sites. Among surgeons performing endoscopic strip craniectomy surgery (SCS), most create a 5-cm-wide craniectomy, whereas 2 surgeons create a 2-cm strip. Four surgeons routinely send endoscopic SCS patients to the intensive care unit after surgery. Two of the 5 sites routinely obtain a CT scan within the 1st year after surgery.

CONCLUSIONS

The SynRG surgeons vary substantially in the use of imaging, the choice of surgical procedure and technique, and follow-up. A collaborative network will provide the opportunity to study different practice patterns, reduce variation, and contribute multicenter data on the management of children with craniosynostosis.

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Tamara D. Simon, Matthew P. Kronman, Kathryn B. Whitlock, Nancy E. Gove, Nicole Mayer-Hamblett, Samuel R. Browd, D. Douglas Cochrane, Richard Holubkov, Abhaya V. Kulkarni, Marcie Langley, David D. Limbrick Jr., Thomas G. Luerssen, W. Jerry Oakes, Jay Riva-Cambrin, Curtis Rozzelle, Chevis Shannon, Mandeep Tamber, John C. Wellons III, William E. Whitehead and John R. W. Kestle

OBJECTIVE

CSF shunt infection requires both surgical and antibiotic treatment. Surgical treatment includes either total shunt removal with external ventricular drain (EVD) placement followed by new shunt insertion, or distal shunt externalization followed by new shunt insertion once the CSF is sterile. Antibiotic treatment includes the administration of intravenous antibiotics. The Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network (HCRN) registry provides a unique opportunity to understand reinfection following treatment for CSF shunt infection. This study examines the association of surgical and antibiotic decisions in the treatment of first CSF shunt infection with reinfection.

METHODS

A prospective cohort study of children undergoing treatment for first CSF infection at 7 HCRN hospitals from April 2008 to December 2012 was performed. The HCRN consensus definition was used to define CSF shunt infection and reinfection. The key surgical predictor variable was surgical approach to treatment for CSF shunt infection, and the key antibiotic treatment predictor variable was intravenous antibiotic selection and duration. Cox proportional hazards models were constructed to address the time-varying nature of the characteristics associated with shunt surgeries.

RESULTS

Of 233 children in the HCRN registry with an initial CSF shunt infection during the study period, 38 patients (16%) developed reinfection over a median time of 44 days (interquartile range [IQR] 19–437). The majority of initial CSF shunt infections were treated with total shunt removal and EVD placement (175 patients; 75%). The median time between infection surgeries was 15 days (IQR 10–22). For the subset of 172 infections diagnosed by CSF culture, the mean ± SD duration of antibiotic treatment was 18.7 ± 12.8 days. In all Cox proportional hazards models, neither surgical approach to infection treatment nor overall intravenous antibiotic duration was independently associated with reinfection. The only treatment decision independently associated with decreased infection risk was the use of rifampin. While this finding did not achieve statistical significance, in all 5 Cox proportional hazards models both surgical approach (other than total shunt removal at initial CSF shunt infection) and nonventriculoperitoneal shunt location were consistently associated with a higher hazard of reinfection, while the use of ultrasound was consistently associated with a lower hazard of reinfection.

CONCLUSIONS

Neither surgical approach to treatment nor antibiotic duration was associated with reinfection risk. While these findings did not achieve statistical significance, surgical approach other than total removal at initial CSF shunt infection was consistently associated with a higher hazard of reinfection in this study and suggests the feasibility of controlling and standardizing the surgical approach (shunt removal with EVD placement). Considerably more variation and equipoise exists in the duration and selection of intravenous antibiotic treatment. Further consideration should be given to the use of rifampin in the treatment of CSF shunt infection. High-quality studies of the optimal duration of antibiotic treatment are critical to the creation of evidence-based guidelines for CSF shunt infection treatment.

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Abhaya V. Kulkarni, Jay Riva-Cambrin, Curtis J. Rozzelle, Robert P. Naftel, Jessica S. Alvey, Ron W. Reeder, Richard Holubkov, Samuel R. Browd, D. Douglas Cochrane, David D. Limbrick Jr., Tamara D. Simon, Mandeep Tamber, John C. Wellons III, William E. Whitehead and John R. W. Kestle

OBJECTIVE

High-quality data comparing endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) with choroid plexus cauterization (CPC) to shunt and ETV alone in North America are greatly lacking. To address this, the Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network (HCRN) conducted a prospective study of ETV+CPC in infants. Here, these prospective data are presented and compared to prospectively collected data from a historical cohort of infants treated with shunt or ETV alone.

METHODS

From June 2014 to September 2015, infants (corrected age ≤ 24 months) requiring treatment for hydrocephalus with anatomy suitable for ETV+CPC were entered into a prospective study at 9 HCRN centers. The rate of procedural failure (i.e., the need for repeat hydrocephalus surgery, hydrocephalus-related death, or major postoperative neurological deficit) was determined. These data were compared with a cohort of similar infants who were treated with either a shunt (n = 969) or ETV alone (n = 74) by creating matched pairs on the basis of age and etiology. These data were obtained from the existing prospective HCRN Core Data Project. All patients were observed for at least 6 months.

RESULTS

A total of 118 infants underwent ETV+CPC (median corrected age 1.3 months; common etiologies including myelomeningocele [30.5%], intraventricular hemorrhage of prematurity [22.9%], and aqueductal stenosis [21.2%]). The 6-month success rate was 36%. The most common complications included seizures (5.1%) and CSF leak (3.4%). Important predictors of treatment success in the survival regression model included older age (p = 0.002), smaller preoperative ventricle size (p = 0.009), and greater degree of CPC (p = 0.02). The matching algorithm resulted in 112 matched pairs for ETV+CPC versus shunt alone and 34 matched pairs for ETV+CPC versus ETV alone. ETV+CPC was found to have significantly higher failure rate than shunt placement (p < 0.001). Although ETV+CPC had a similar failure rate compared with ETV alone (p = 0.73), the matched pairs included mostly infants with aqueductal stenosis and miscellaneous other etiologies but very few patients with intraventricular hemorrhage of prematurity.

CONCLUSIONS

Within a large and broad cohort of North American infants, our data show that overall ETV+CPC appears to have a higher failure rate than shunt alone. Although the ETV+CPC results were similar to ETV alone, this comparison was limited by the small sample size and skewed etiological distribution. Within the ETV+CPC group, greater extent of CPC was associated with treatment success, thereby suggesting that there are subgroups who might benefit from the addition of CPC. Further work will focus on identifying these subgroups.

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William E. Whitehead, Jay Riva-Cambrin, Abhaya V. Kulkarni, John C. Wellons III, Curtis J. Rozzelle, Mandeep S. Tamber, David D. Limbrick Jr., Samuel R. Browd, Robert P. Naftel, Chevis N. Shannon, Tamara D. Simon, Richard Holubkov, Anna Illner, D. Douglas Cochrane, James M. Drake, Thomas G. Luerssen, W. Jerry Oakes and John R. W. Kestle

OBJECTIVE

Accurate placement of ventricular catheters may result in prolonged shunt survival, but the best target for the hole-bearing segment of the catheter has not been rigorously defined. The goal of the study was to define a target within the ventricle with the lowest risk of shunt failure.

METHODS

Five catheter placement variables (ventricular catheter tip location, ventricular catheter tip environment, relationship to choroid plexus, catheter tip holes within ventricle, and crosses midline) were defined, assessed for interobserver agreement, and evaluated for their effect on shunt survival in univariate and multivariate analyses. De-identified subjects from the Shunt Design Trial, the Endoscopic Shunt Insertion Trial, and a Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network study on ultrasound-guided catheter placement were combined (n = 858 subjects, all first-time shunt insertions, all patients < 18 years old). The first postoperative brain imaging study was used to determine ventricular catheter placement for each of the catheter placement variables.

RESULTS

Ventricular catheter tip location, environment, catheter tip holes within the ventricle, and crosses midline all achieved sufficient interobserver agreement (κ > 0.60). In the univariate survival analysis, however, only ventricular catheter tip location was useful in distinguishing a target within the ventricle with a survival advantage (frontal horn; log-rank, p = 0.0015). None of the other catheter placement variables yielded a significant survival advantage unless they were compared with catheter tips completely not in the ventricle. Cox regression analysis was performed, examining ventricular catheter tip location with age, etiology, surgeon, decade of surgery, and catheter entry site (anterior vs posterior). Only age (p < 0.001) and entry site (p = 0.005) were associated with shunt survival; ventricular catheter tip location was not (p = 0.37). Anterior entry site lowered the risk of shunt failure compared with posterior entry site by approximately one-third (HR 0.65, 95% CI 0.51–0.83).

CONCLUSIONS

This analysis failed to identify an ideal target within the ventricle for the ventricular catheter tip. Unexpectedly, the choice of an anterior versus posterior catheter entry site was more important in determining shunt survival than the location of the ventricular catheter tip within the ventricle. Entry site may represent a modifiable risk factor for shunt failure, but, due to inherent limitations in study design and previous clinical research on entry site, a randomized controlled trial is necessary before treatment recommendations can be made.

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Abhaya V. Kulkarni, Jay Riva-Cambrin, Richard Holubkov, Samuel R. Browd, D. Douglas Cochrane, James M. Drake, David D. Limbrick, Curtis J. Rozzelle, Tamara D. Simon, Mandeep S. Tamber, John C. Wellons III, William E. Whitehead, John R. W. Kestle and for the Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network

OBJECTIVE

Endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) is now established as a viable treatment option for a subgroup of children with hydrocephalus. Here, the authors report prospective, multicenter results from the Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network (HCRN) to provide the most accurate determination of morbidity, complication incidence, and efficacy of ETV in children and to determine if intraoperative predictors of ETV success add substantially to preoperative predictors.

METHODS

All children undergoing a first ETV (without choroid plexus cauterization) at 1 of 7 HCRN centers up to June 2013 were included in the study and followed up for a minimum of 18 months. Data, including detailed intraoperative data, were prospectively collected as part of the HCRN's Core Data Project and included details of patient characteristics, ETV failure (need for repeat hydrocephalus surgery), and, in a subset of patients, postoperative complications up to the time of discharge.

RESULTS

Three hundred thirty-six eligible children underwent initial ETV, 18.8% of whom had undergone shunt placement prior to the ETV. The median age at ETV was 6.9 years (IQR 1.7–12.6), with 15.2% of the study cohort younger than 12 months of age. The most common etiologies were aqueductal stenosis (24.8%) and midbrain or tectal lesions (21.2%). Visible forniceal injury (16.6%) was more common than previously reported, whereas severe bleeding (1.8%), thalamic contusion (1.8%), venous injury (1.5%), hypothalamic contusion (1.5%), and major arterial injury (0.3%) were rare. The most common postoperative complications were CSF leak (4.4%), hyponatremia (3.9%), and pseudomeningocele (3.9%). New neurological deficit occurred in 1.5% cases, with 0.5% being permanent.

One hundred forty-one patients had documented failure of their ETV requiring repeat hydrocephalus surgery during follow-up, 117 of them during the first 6 months postprocedure. Kaplan-Meier rates of 30-day, 90-day, 6-month, 1-year, and 2-year failure-free survival were 73.7%, 66.7%, 64.8%, 61.7%, and 57.8%, respectively. According to multivariate modeling, the preoperative ETV Success Score (ETVSS) was associated with ETV success (p < 0.001), as was the intraoperative ability to visualize a “naked” basilar artery (p = 0.023).

CONCLUSIONS

The authors' documented experience represents the most detailed account of ETV results in North America and provides the most accurate picture to date of ETV success and complications, based on contemporaneously collected prospective data. Serious complications with ETV are low. In addition to the ETVSS, visualization of a naked basilar artery is predictive of ETV success.

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John R. W. Kestle, Richard Holubkov, D. Douglas Cochrane, Abhaya V. Kulkarni, David D. Limbrick Jr., Thomas G. Luerssen, W. Jerry Oakes, Jay Riva-Cambrin, Curtis Rozzelle, Tamara D. Simon, Marion L. Walker, John C. Wellons III, Samuel R. Browd, James M. Drake, Chevis N. Shannon, Mandeep S. Tamber, William E. Whitehead and The Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network

OBJECT

In a previous report by the same research group (Kestle et al., 2011), compliance with an 11-step protocol was shown to reduce CSF shunt infection at Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network (HCRN) centers (from 8.7% to 5.7%). Antibiotic-impregnated catheters (AICs) were not part of the protocol but were used off protocol by some surgeons. The authors therefore began using a new protocol that included AICs in an effort to reduce the infection rate further.

METHODS

The new protocol was implemented at HCRN centers on January 1, 2012, for all shunt procedures (excluding external ventricular drains [EVDs], ventricular reservoirs, and subgaleal shunts). Procedures performed up to September 30, 2013, were included (21 months). Compliance with the protocol and outcome events up to March 30, 2014, were recorded. The definition of infection was unchanged from the authors' previous report.

RESULTS

A total of 1935 procedures were performed on 1670 patients at 8 HCRN centers. The overall infection rate was 6.0% (95% CI 5.1%–7.2%). Procedure-specific infection rates varied (insertion 5.0%, revision 5.4%, insertion after EVD 8.3%, and insertion after treatment of infection 12.6%). Full compliance with the protocol occurred in 77% of procedures. The infection rate was 5.0% after compliant procedures and 8.7% after noncompliant procedures (p = 0.005). The infection rate when using this new protocol (6.0%, 95% CI 5.1%–7.2%) was similar to the infection rate observed using the authors' old protocol (5.7%, 95% CI 4.6%–7.0%).

CONCLUSIONS

CSF shunt procedures performed in compliance with a new infection prevention protocol at HCRN centers had a lower infection rate than noncompliant procedures. Implementation of the new protocol (including AICs) was associated with a 6.0% infection rate, similar to the infection rate of 5.7% from the authors' previously reported protocol. Based on the current data, the role of AICs compared with other infection prevention measures is unclear.