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Paul D. Chumas, Derek C. Armstrong, James M. Drake, Abhaya V. Kulkarni, Harold J. Hoffman, Robin P. Humphreys, James T. Rutka and E. Bruce Hendrick

✓ Although the development of tonsillar herniation (acquired Chiari malformation) in association with lumboperitoneal (LP) shunting is well recognized, it has previously been considered rare. In order to ascertain the incidence of this complication after LP shunting, the authors undertook a retrospective study of all patients in whom this form of shunt had been inserted between 1974 and 1991 at The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto. In the 143 patients, the mean age at insertion was 3.3 years and the indications for shunt placement were hydrocephalus (81%), pseudotumor cerebri (7%), cerebrospinal fluid fistula (6%), and posterior fossa pseudomeningocele (6%). The mean follow-up period was 5.7 years, during which time there was one shunt-related death due to unsuspected tonsillar herniation. Five other patients developed symptomatic tonsillar herniation treated by suboccipital decompression.

Review of all computerized tomography (CT) scans not degraded by artifact showed evidence of excess soft tissue at the level of the foramen magnum in 38 (70%) of 54 patients so studied. In order to confirm that this CT finding represented hindbrain herniation, sagittal and axial magnetic resonance (MR) images were obtained for 17 asymptomatic patients and revealed tonsillar herniation (range 2 to 21 mm) in 12 (70.6%). In addition, some of these asymptomatic patients had evidence of uncal herniation and mesencephalic distortion. Similarities and distinctions are drawn between the morphological changes occurring after LP shunting and those seen in association with the Chiari I and II malformations. Although less than 5% of this study population required treatment for tonsillar herniation, the incidence of this complication was high in asymptomatic patients; MR imaging surveillance for patients with LP shunts is therefore recommended.

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Abhaya V. Kulkarni, Juan M. Bilbao, Michael D. Cusimano and Paul J. Muller

✓ Ganglioneuroma is generally considered to be a benign tumor and potentially surgically curable. The authors present a case of a 21-year-old woman who underwent resection of a retroperitoneal ganglioneuroma and developed spinal neuroblastoma 11 years later. She has survived 10 more years with only recent development of metastases. To the authors' knowledge, this is the first report of malignant transformation of a ganglioneuroma into a neuroblastoma. Also, such long-term survival in an adult with spinal neuroblastoma has not been reported previously. This case raises the possibility of a dedifferentiating potential for ganglion cells in a ganglioneuroma or the presence of a long-term, quiescent form of neuroblastoma.

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Abhaya V. Kulkarni, Abhijit Guha, Andres Lozano and Mark Bernstein

Object. Many neurosurgeons routinely obtain computerized tomography (CT) scans to rule out hemorrhage in patients after stereotactic procedures. In the present prospective study, the authors investigated the rate of silent hemorrhage and delayed deterioration after stereotactic biopsy sampling and the role of postbiopsy CT scanning.

Methods. A subset of patients (the last 102 of approximately 800 patients) who underwent stereotactic brain biopsies at the Toronto Hospital prospectively underwent routine postoperative CT scanning within hours of the biopsy procedure. Their medical charts and CT scans were then reviewed.

A postoperative CT scan was obtained in 102 patients (aged 17–87 years) who underwent stereotactic biopsy between June 1994 and September 1996. Sixty-one patients (59.8%) exhibited hemorrhages, mostly intracerebral (54.9%), on the immediate postoperative scan. Only six of these patients were clinically suspected to have suffered a hemorrhage based on immediate postoperative neurological deficit; in the remaining 55 (53.9%) of 102 patients, the hemorrhage was clinically silent and unsuspected. Among the clinically silent intracerebral hemorrhages, 22 measured less than 5 mm, 20 between 5 and 10 mm, five between 10 and 30 mm, and four between 30 and 40 mm. Of the 55 patients with clinically silent hemorrhages, only three demonstrated a delayed neurological deficit (one case of seizure and two cases of progressive loss of consciousness) and these all occurred within the first 2 postoperative days. Of the neurologically well patients in whom no hemorrhage was demonstrated on initial postoperative CT scan, none experienced delayed deterioration.

Conclusions. Clinically silent hemorrhage after stereotactic biopsy is very common. However, the authors did not find that knowledge of its existence ultimately affected individual patient management or outcome. The authors, therefore, suggest that the most important role of postoperative CT scanning is to screen for those neurologically well patients with no hemorrhage. These patients could safely be discharged on the same day they underwent biopsy.

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Abhaya V. Kulkarni, Laurence E. Becker, Venita Jay, Derek C. Armstrong and James M. Drake

✓ Primary cerebellar glioblastomas multiforme are exceedingly rare in children. The authors therefore retrospectively characterized the clinical behavior and pathological features of these tumors. A review of the database at the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada revealed four patients with cerebellar tumors that displayed significant pleomorphism, hypercellularity, mitoses, and necrosis with pseudopalisading. The authors performed a detailed clinical, radiological, histological, and immunohistochemical analysis of the tumors in these four children (three boys and one girl; average age at presentation 7 years; range 21 months–15 years). Magnetic resonance imaging and computerized tomography most commonly revealed a large lesion with minimal edema, inhomogeneous contrast enhancement, and a discrete border. Tumor resection was subtotal in one patient and gross total in three patients. Immunostaining of the tumor cells with antisera to glial fibrillary acidic protein and vimentin was positive in varying degrees. Initial adjuvant therapy consisted of local radiation only (one patient), chemotherapy only (one patient), and radiation and chemotherapy (one patient). One patient received no adjuvant therapy. Tumor recurrence was documented in all patients: two local recurrences (at 3.5 and 7 months), one spinal recurrence (at 14 months), and one local recurrence with ventricular and spinal spread (at 8 months). Ultimately, three of the four patients developed leptomeningeal tumor spread. Patient follow up ranged from 8 to 17 months (mean 12.5 months). Three patients were dead at last follow up with a mean survival of 15 months.

The prognosis for patients with cerebellar glioblastomas is extremely poor, and the tumor has a tendency for cerebrospinal fluid dissemination. The optimal management of patients harboring of these difficult-to-treat tumors, including the role of craniospinal radiation and chemotherapy, has not yet been achieved.

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Abhaya V. Kulkarni, James M. Drake, Derek C. Armstrong and Peter B. Dirks

Object. The goal of this study was to determine and compare imaging correlates in pediatric patients who underwent successful or failed endoscopic third ventriculostomies (ETVs). To this end, the authors measured ventricular size changes and the presence of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) flow void in both groups of children following ETV.

Methods. Images obtained in children with hydrocephalus immediately before and at least 30 days after having undergone ETV were reviewed by four independent observers (two blinded and two nonblinded). Each observer independently measured the frontal and occipital horn ratio ([FOR], a reliable and valid measure of ventricular size) and provided a subjective assessment of the presence of a flow void at the ETV site, the degree of periventricular edema, and the amount of CSF over the cerebral hemispheres.

There were 29 children whose mean age was 6.6 years at the time of ETV and who had a mean postoperative follow-up period lasting 1.6 years. Postoperatively, the mean reduction in ventricular size (as measured using the FOR) was 7% (95% confidence interval [CI] 3–11%) in cases that were deemed failures (eight patients) and 16% (95% CI 12–20%) in clinically successful cases (21 patients). This reduction was significantly greater in cases of clinical success compared with those that were deemed failures (p = 0.03, t-test). There were no substantial differences between blinded and nonblinded assessments. Flow void was present in 94% of successes and absent in 75% of failures (p = 0.01, Fisher's exact test). The other subjective assessments were not significantly different between the groups of successes and failures.

Conclusions. Ventricular size appears to be somewhat reduced in both groups of patients who underwent clinically successful and failed ETV; however, the reduction is significantly greater among clinically successful cases. The presence of a flow void also appears to correlate with clinical success and its absence with clinical failure.

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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.

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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.