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Mandeep S. Tamber, Paul Klimo Jr., Catherine A. Mazzola and Ann Marie Flannery

Object

The objective of this systematic review was to answer the following question: What is the optimal treatment strategy for CSF shunt infection in pediatric patients with hydrocephalus?

Methods

The US National Library of Medicine and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews were queried using MeSH headings and key words relevant to the objective of this systematic review. Abstracts were reviewed, after which studies meeting the inclusion criteria were selected and graded according to their quality of evidence (Classes I–III). Evidentiary tables were constructed that summarized pertinent study results, and based on the quality of the literature, recommendations were made (Levels I–III).

Results

A review and critical appraisal of 27 studies that met the inclusion criteria allowed for a recommendation for supplementation of antibiotic treatment using partial (externalization) or complete shunt hardware removal, with a moderate degree of clinical certainty. However, a recommendation regarding whether complete shunt removal is favored over partial shunt removal (that is, externalization) could not be made owing to severe methodological deficiencies in the existing literature. There is insufficient evidence to recommend the use of intrathecal antibiotic therapy as an adjunct to systemic antibiotic therapy in the management of routine CSF shunt infections. This also holds true for other clinical scenarios such as when an infected CSF shunt cannot be completely removed, when a shunt must be removed and immediately replaced in the face of ongoing CSF infection, or when the setting is ventricular shunt infection caused by specific organisms (for example, gram-negative bacteria).

Conclusions

Supplementation of antibiotic treatment with partial (externalization) or complete shunt hardware removal are options in the management of CSF shunt infection. There is insufficient evidence to recommend either shunt externalization or complete shunt removal as the preferred surgical strategy for the management of CSF shunt infection. Therefore, clinical judgment is required. In addition, there is insufficient evidence to recommend the combination of intrathecal and systemic antibiotics for patients with CSF shunt infection when the infected shunt hardware cannot be fully removed, when the shunt must be removed and immediately replaced, or when the CSF shunt infection is caused by specific organisms. The potential neurotoxicity of intrathecal antibiotic therapy may limit its routine use.

Recommendation: Supplementation of antibiotic treatment with partial (externalization) or with complete shunt hardware removal is an option in the management of CSF shunt infection. Strength of Recommendation: Level II, moderate degree of clinical certainty.

Recommendation: There is insufficient evidence to recommend either shunt externalization or complete shunt removal as a preferred surgical strategy for the management of CSF shunt infection. Therefore, clinical judgment is required. Strength of Recommendation: Level III, unclear degree of clinical certainty.

Recommendation: There is insufficient evidence to recommend the combination of intrathecal and systemic antibiotics for patients with CSF shunt infection in whom the infected shunt hardware cannot be fully removed or must be removed and immediately replaced, or when the CSF shunt infection is caused by specific organisms. The potential neurotoxicity of intrathecal antibiotic therapy may limit its routine use. Strength of Recommendation: Level III, unclear degree of clinical certainty.

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Adam Ross Befeler, David J. Daniels, Susan A. Helms, Paul Klimo Jr. and Frederick Boop

Object

Current data indicate the rate of head injuries in children caused by falling televisions is increasing. The authors describe these injuries and the cost incurred by them.

Methods

In a single-institution retrospective review, all children treated for a television-related injury at LeBonheur Children's Hospital, a Level I pediatric trauma center, between 2009 and 2013 were identified through the institution's trauma registry. The type, mechanism, and severity of cranial injuries, surgical interventions, outcome, and costs were examined.

Results

Twenty-six patients were treated for a television-related injury during the study period. Most injuries (22 cases, 85%) occurred in children aged 2–4 years (mean age 3.3 years), and 19 (73%) of the 26 patients were male. Head injuries occurred in 20 patients (77%); these injuries ranged from concussion to skull fractures and subdural, subarachnoid, and intraparenchymal hemorrhages. The average Glasgow Coma Scale score on admission was 12 (range 7–15), and 3 patients (12%) had neurological deficits. Surgical intervention was required in 5 cases (19%). The majority of patients made a full recovery. There were no deaths. The total cost for television-related injuries was $1.4 million, with an average cost of $53,893 per accident.

Conclusions

A high occurrence of head injuries was seen following television-related accidents in young children. This injury is ideal for a public education campaign targeting parents, health care workers, and television manufacturers.

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Prayash Patel, Aaron A. Cohen-Gadol, Frederick Boop and Paul Klimo Jr.

Object

There are a number of surgical approaches to the third ventricle, each with advantages and disadvantages. Which approach to use depends on the location of the lesion within the ventricle, the goals of the operation, and the surgeon's experience. The authors present their results in children with a modified approach through the expanded foramen of Monro.

Methods

A retrospective study was conducted to identify and analyze all children who underwent what the authors term the “expanded transforaminal” approach to the third ventricle between 2010 and 2013. Perioperative data included patient demographics, signs and symptoms on presentation, tumor characteristics (type, origin, and size), complications, and clinical and radiographic outcome at final follow-up.

Results

Twelve patients were identified (5 female, 7 male) with a mean age of 9 years (range 2–19 years). Two patients underwent gross-total resections, whereas 10 resections were less than total. There were no instances of venous infarction, significant intraoperative bleeding, or short-term memory deficits. Of the 12 patients, 7 suffered a total of 17 complications. Disruption of neuroendocrine function occurred in 4 patients: 2 with transient diabetes insipidus, 2 with permanent panhypopituitarism, and 1 with central hypothroidism (1 patient had 2 complications). The most common group of complications were CSF-related, including 2 patients requiring a new shunt. There was 1 approach-related injury to the fornix, which did not result in any clinical deficits. One child with an aggressive malignancy died of tumor progression 6 months after surgery. Of the remaining 11 patients, none have experienced tumor recurrence or progression to date.

Conclusions

The expanded transcallosal transforaminal approach is a safe and relatively easy method of exploiting a natural pathway to the third ventricle, but there remain blind zones in the anterosuperior and posterosuperior regions of the third ventricle.

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Cody L. Nesvick, Clinton J. Thompson, Frederick A. Boop and Paul Klimo Jr.

Object

Observational studies, such as cohort and case-control studies, are valuable instruments in evidence-based medicine. Case-control studies, in particular, are becoming increasingly popular in the neurosurgical literature due to their low cost and relative ease of execution; however, no one has yet systematically assessed these types of studies for quality in methodology and reporting.

Methods

The authors performed a literature search using PubMed/MEDLINE to identify all studies that explicitly identified themselves as “case-control” and were published in the JNS Publishing Group journals (Journal of Neurosurgery, Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics, Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine, and Neurosurgical Focus) or Neurosurgery. Each paper was evaluated for 22 descriptive variables and then categorized as having either met or missed the basic definition of a case-control study. All studies that evaluated risk factors for a well-defined outcome were considered true case-control studies. The authors sought to identify key features or phrases that were or were not predictive of a true case-control study. Those papers that satisfied the definition were further evaluated using the Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) checklist.

Results

The search detected 67 papers that met the inclusion criteria, of which 32 (48%) represented true case-control studies. The frequency of true case-control studies has not changed with time. Use of odds ratios (ORs) and logistic regression (LR) analysis were strong positive predictors of true case-control studies (for odds ratios, OR 15.33 and 95% CI 4.52–51.97; for logistic regression analysis, OR 8.77 and 95% CI 2.69–28.56). Conversely, negative predictors included focus on a procedure/intervention (OR 0.35, 95% CI 0.13–0.998) and use of the word “outcome” in the Results section (OR 0.23, 95% CI 0.082–0.65). After exclusion of nested case-control studies, the negative correlation between focus on a procedure/intervention and true case-control studies was strengthened (OR 0.053, 95% CI 0.0064–0.44). There was a trend toward a negative association between the use of survival analysis or Kaplan-Meier curves and true case-control studies (OR 0.13, 95% CI 0.015–1.12). True case-control studies were no more likely than their counterparts to use a potential study design “expert” (OR 1.50, 95% CI 0.57–3.95). The overall average STROBE score was 72% (range 50–86%). Examples of reporting deficiencies were reporting of bias (28%), missing data (55%), and funding (44%).

Conclusions

The results of this analysis show that the majority of studies in the neurosurgical literature that identify themselves as “case-control” studies are, in fact, labeled incorrectly. Positive and negative predictors were identified. The authors provide several recommendations that may reverse the incorrect and inappropriate use of the term “case-control” and improve the quality of design and reporting of true case-control studies in neurosurgery.

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Paul Klimo Jr., Clinton J. Thompson, Brian T. Ragel and Frederick A. Boop

Object

Neurosurgeons are inundated with vast amounts of new clinical research on a daily basis, making it difficult and time-consuming to keep up with the latest literature. Meta-analysis is an extension of a systematic review that employs statistical techniques to pool the data from the literature in order to calculate a cumulative effect size. This is done to answer a clearly defined a priori question. Despite their increasing popularity in the neurosurgery literature, meta-analyses have not been scrutinized in terms of reporting and methodology.

Methods

The authors performed a literature search using PubMed/MEDLINE to locate all meta-analyses that have been published in the JNS Publishing Group journals (Journal of Neurosurgery, Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics, Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine, and Neurosurgical Focus) or Neurosurgery. Accepted checklists for reporting (PRISMA) and methodology (AMSTAR) were applied to each meta-analysis, and the number of items within each checklist that were satisfactorily fulfilled was recorded. The authors sought to answer 4 specific questions: Are meta-analyses improving 1) with time; 2) when the study met their definition of a meta-analysis; 3) when clinicians collaborated with a potential expert in meta-analysis; and 4) when the meta-analysis was the only focus of the paper?

Results

Seventy-two meta-analyses were published in the JNS Publishing Group journals and Neurosurgery between 1990 and 2012. The number of published meta-analyses has increased dramatically in the last several years. The most common topics were vascular, and most were based on observational studies. Only 11 papers were prepared using an established checklist. The average AMSTAR and PRISMA scores (proportion of items satisfactorily fulfilled divided by the total number of eligible items in the respective instrument) were 31% and 55%, respectively. Major deficiencies were identified, including the lack of a comprehensive search strategy, study selection and data extraction, assessment of heterogeneity, publication bias, and study quality. Almost one-third of the papers did not meet our basic definition of a meta-analysis. The quality of reporting and methodology was better 1) when the study met our definition of a meta-analysis; 2) when one or more of the authors had experience or expertise in conducting a meta-analysis; 3) when the meta-analysis was not conducted alongside an evaluation of the authors' own data; and 4) in more recent studies.

Conclusions

Reporting and methodology of meta-analyses in the neurosurgery literature is excessively variable and overall poor. As these papers are being published with increasing frequency, neurosurgical journals need to adopt a clear definition of a meta-analysis and insist that they be created using checklists for both reporting and methodology. Standardization will ensure high-quality publications.

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Nickalus R. Khan, Clinton J. Thompson, Douglas R. Taylor, Garrett T. Venable, R. Matthew Wham, L. Madison Michael II and Paul Klimo Jr.

Object

Bibliometrics is defined as the study of statistical and mathematical methods used to quantitatively analyze scientific literature. The application of bibliometrics in neurosurgery is in its infancy. The authors calculate a number of publication productivity measures for almost all academic neurosurgeons and departments within the US.

Methods

The h-index, g-index, m-quotient, and contemporary h-index (hc-index) were calculated for 1225 academic neurosurgeons in 99 (of 101) programs listed by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education in January 2013. Three currently available citation databases were used: Google Scholar, Scopus, and Web of Science. Bibliometric profiles were created for each surgeon. Comparisons based on academic rank (that is, chairperson, professor, associate, assistant, and instructor), sex, and subspecialties were performed. Departments were ranked based on the summation of individual faculty h-indices. Calculations were carried out from January to February 2013.

Results

The median h-index, g-index, hc-index, and m-quotient were 11, 20, 8, and 0.62, respectively. All indices demonstrated a positive relationship with increasing academic rank (p < 0.001). The median h-index was 11 for males (n = 1144) and 8 for females (n = 81). The h-index, g-index and hc-index significantly varied by sex (p < 0.001). However, when corrected for academic rank, this difference was no longer significant. There was no difference in the m-quotient by sex. Neurosurgeons with subspecialties in functional/epilepsy, peripheral nerve, radiosurgery, neuro-oncology/skull base, and vascular have the highest median h-indices; general, pediatric, and spine neurosurgeons have the lowest median h-indices. By summing the manually calculated Scopus h-indices of all individuals within a department, the top 5 programs for publication productivity are University of California, San Francisco; Barrow Neurological Institute; Johns Hopkins University; University of Pittsburgh; and University of California, Los Angeles.

Conclusions

This study represents the most detailed publication analysis of academic neurosurgeons and their programs to date. The results for the metrics presented should be viewed as benchmarks for comparison purposes. It is our hope that organized neurosurgery will adopt and continue to refine bibliometric profiling of individuals and departments.

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Nicholas Theodore, M. Yashar S. Kalani and Volker K. H. Sonntag

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Paul Klimo Jr., Atmaram S. Pai Panandiker, Clinton J. Thompson, Frederick A. Boop, Ibrahim Qaddoumi, Amar Gajjar, Gregory T. Armstrong, David W. Ellison, Larry E. Kun, Robert J. Ogg and Robert A. Sanford

Object

Whereas diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas generally have a short symptom duration and more cranial nerve involvement, focal brainstem gliomas are commonly low grade, with fewer cranial neuropathies. Although these phenotypic distinctions are not absolute predictors of outcome, they do demonstrate correlation in most cases. Because there is a limited literature on focal brainstem gliomas in pediatric patients, the objective of this paper was to report the management and outcome of these tumors.

Methods

The authors reviewed the records of all children diagnosed with radiographically confirmed low-grade focal brainstem gliomas from 1986 to 2010. Each patient underwent biopsy or resection for tissue diagnosis. Event-free survival (EFS) and overall survival were evaluated. Univariate analysis was conducted to identify demographic and treatment variables that may affect EFS.

Results

Fifty-two patients (20 girls, 32 boys) with follow-up data were identified. Median follow-up was 10.0 years, and the median age at diagnosis was 6.5 years (range 1–17 years). The tumor locations were midbrain (n = 22, 42%), pons (n = 15, 29%), and medulla (n = 15, 29%). Surgical extirpation was the primary treatment in 25 patients (48%). The 5- and 10-year EFS and overall survival were 59%/98% and 52%/90%, respectively. An event or treatment failure occurred in 24 patients (46%), including 5 deaths. Median time to treatment failure was 3.4 years. Disease progression in the other 19 patients transpired within 25.1 months of diagnosis. Thirteen of these patients received radiation, including 11 within 2 months of primary treatment failure. Although children with intrinsic tumors had slightly better EFS at 5 years compared with those with exophytic tumors (p = 0.054), this difference was not significant at 10 years (p = 0.147). No other variables were predictive of EFS.

Conclusions

Surgery suffices in many children with low-grade focal brainstem gliomas. Radiation treatment is often reserved for disease progression but offers comparable disease control following biopsy. In the authors' experience, combining an assessment of clinical course, imaging, and tumor biopsy yields a reasonable model for managing children with focal brainstem tumors.