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

OBJECTIVE

Previous Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network (HCRN) retrospective studies have shown a 15% difference in rates of conversion to permanent shunts with the use of ventriculosubgaleal shunts (VSGSs) versus ventricular reservoirs (VRs) as temporization procedures in the treatment of hydrocephalus due to high-grade intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH) of prematurity. Further research in the same study line revealed a strong influence of center-specific decision-making on shunt outcomes. The primary goal of this prospective study was to standardize decision-making across centers to determine true procedural superiority, if any, of VSGS versus VR as a temporization procedure in high-grade IVH of prematurity.

METHODS

The HCRN conducted a prospective cohort study across 6 centers with an approximate 1.5- to 3-year accrual period (depending on center) followed by 6 months of follow-up. Infants with premature birth, who weighed less than 1500 g, had Grade 3 or 4 IVH of prematurity, and had more than 72 hours of life expectancy were included in the study. Based on a priori consensus, decisions were standardized regarding the timing of initial surgical treatment, upfront shunt versus temporization procedure (VR or VSGS), and when to convert a VR or VSGS to a permanent shunt. Physical examination assessment and surgical technique were also standardized. The primary outcome was the proportion of infants who underwent conversion to a permanent shunt. The major secondary outcomes of interest included infection and other complication rates.

RESULTS

One hundred forty-five premature infants were enrolled and met criteria for analysis. Using the standardized decision rubrics, 28 infants never reached the threshold for treatment, 11 initially received permanent shunts, 4 were initially treated with endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV), and 102 underwent a temporization procedure (36 with VSGSs and 66 with VRs). The 2 temporization cohorts were similar in terms of sex, race, IVH grade, head (orbitofrontal) circumference, and ventricular size at temporization. There were statistically significant differences noted between groups in gestational age, birth weight, and bilaterality of clot burden that were controlled for in post hoc analysis. By Kaplan-Meier analysis, the 180-day rates of conversion to permanent shunts were 63.5% for VSGS and 74.0% for VR (p = 0.36, log-rank test). The infection rate for VSGS was 14% (5/36) and for VR was 17% (11/66; p = 0.71). The overall compliance rate with the standardized decision rubrics was noted to be 90% for all surgeons.

CONCLUSIONS

A standardized protocol was instituted across all centers of the HCRN. Compliance was high. Choice of temporization techniques in premature infants with IVH does not appear to influence rates of conversion to permanent ventricular CSF diversion. Once management decisions and surgical techniques are standardized across HCRN sites, thus minimizing center effect, the observed difference in conversion rates between VSGSs and VRs is mitigated.

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Guillermo Aldave, Daniel Hansen, Valentina Briceño, Thomas G. Luerssen and Andrew Jea

OBJECTIVE

The authors previously demonstrated the use of a validated Objective Structured Assessment of Technical Skills (OSATS) tool for evaluating residents' operative skills in pediatric neurosurgery. However, no benchmarks have been established for specific pediatric procedures despite an increased need for meaningful assessments that can either allow for early intervention for underperforming trainees or allow for proficient residents to progress to conducting operations independently with more passive supervision. This validated methodology and tool for assessment of operative skills for common pediatric neurosurgical procedures—external ventricular drain (EVD) placement and shunt surgery— was applied to establish its procedure-based feasibility and reliability, and to document the effect of repetition on achieving surgical skill proficiency in pediatric EVD placement and shunt surgery.

METHODS

A procedure-based technical skills assessment for EVD placements and shunt surgeries in pediatric neurosurgery was established through the use of task analysis. The authors enrolled all residents from 3 training programs (Baylor College of Medicine, Houston Methodist Hospital, and University of Texas–Medical Branch) who rotated through pediatric neurosurgery at Texas Children's Hospital over a 26-month period. For each EVD placement or shunt procedure performed with a resident, the faculty and resident (for self-assessment) completed an evaluation form (OSATS) based on a 5-point Likert scale with 7 categories. Data forms were then grouped according to faculty versus resident (self) assessment, length of pediatric neurosurgery rotation, postgraduate year level, and date of evaluation (“beginning of rotation,” within 1 month of start date; “end of rotation,” within 1 month of completion date; or “middle of rotation”). Descriptive statistical analyses were performed with the commercially available SPSS statistical software package. A p value < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.

RESULTS

Five attending evaluators (including 2 fellows who acted as attending surgeons) completed 260 evaluations. Twenty house staff completed 269 evaluations for self-assessment. Evaluations were completed in 562 EVD and shunt procedures before the surgeons left the operating room. There were statistically significant differences (p < 0.05) between overall attending (mean 4.3) and junior resident (self; mean 3.6) assessments, and between overall attending (mean 4.8) and senior resident (self; mean 4.6) assessment scores on general performance and technical skills. The learning curves produced for the residents demonstrate a stereotypical U- or V-shaped curve for acquiring skills, with a significant improvement in overall scores at the end of the rotation compared with the beginning. The improvement for junior residents (Δ score = 0.5; p = 0.002) was larger than for senior residents (Δ score = 0.2; p = 0.018).

CONCLUSIONS

The OSATS is an effective assessment tool as part of a comprehensive evaluation of neurosurgery residents' performance for specific pediatric procedures. The authors observed a U-shaped learning curve, contradicting the idea that developing one's surgical technique and learning a procedure represents a monotonic, cumulative process of repetitions and improvement.

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Sandi Lam, I-Wen Pan, Ben A. Strickland, Caroline Hadley, Bradley Daniels, Jim Brookshier and Thomas G. Luerssen

OBJECTIVE

Following institution of the Back to Sleep Campaign, the incidence of sudden infant death syndrome decreased while the prevalence of positional skull deformation increased dramatically. The management of positional deformity is controversial, and treatment recommendations and outcomes reporting are variable. The authors reviewed their institutional experience (2008–2014) with the treatment of positional plagiocephaly to explore factors associated with measured improvement.

METHODS

A retrospective chart review was conducted with risk factors and treatment for positional head shape deformity recorded. Univariate and multivariate analyses were used to assess the impact of these variables on the change in measured oblique diagonal difference (ODD) on head shape surface scanning pre- and posttreatment.

RESULTS

A total of 991 infants aged less than 1 year were evaluated for cranial positional deformity in a dedicated clinical program. The most common deformity was occipital plagiocephaly (69.5%), followed by occipital brachycephaly (18.4%) or a combination of both deformities (12.1%). Recommended treatment included repositioning (RP), physical therapy (PT) if indicated, or orthotic treatment with a customized cranial orthosis (CO) according to an age- and risk factor–dependent algorithm that the authors developed for this clinic. Of the 991 eligible patients, 884 returned for at least 1 follow-up appointment. A total of 552 patients were followed to completion of their treatment and had a full set of records for analysis: these patients had pre- and posttreatment 2D surface scanner evaluations. The average presenting age was 6.2 months (corrected for prematurity for treatment considerations). Of the 991 patients, 543 (54.8%) had RP or PT as first recommended treatment. Of these 543 patients, 137 (25.2%) transitioned to helmet therapy after the condition did not improve over 4–8 weeks. In the remaining cases, RP/PT had already failed before the patients were seen in this program, and the starting treatment recommendation was CO. At the end of treatment, the measured improvements in ODD were 36.7%, 33.5%, and 15.1% for patients receiving CO, RP/PT/CO, and RP/PT, respectively. Univariate analysis showed that sex, race, insurance, diagnosis, sleep position preference, torticollis history, and multiple gestation were not significantly associated with magnitude of ODD change during treatment. On multivariate analysis, corrected age at presentation and type of treatment received were significantly associated with magnitude of ODD change. Orthotic treatment corresponded with the largest ODD change, while the RP/PT group had the least change in ODD. Earlier age at presentation corresponded with larger ODD change.

CONCLUSIONS

Earlier age at presentation and type of treatment impact the degree of measured deformational head shape correction in positional plagiocephaly. This retrospective study suggests that treatment with a custom CO can result in more improvement in objective measurements of head shape.

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Sandi Lam, Thomas G. Luerssen, Caroline Hadley, Bradley Daniels, Ben A. Strickland, Jim Brookshier and I-Wen Pan

OBJECTIVE

This study aimed to examine factors associated with adherence to recommended treatment among pediatric patients with positional skull deformity by reviewing a single-institution experience (2007–2014) with the treatment of positional plagiocephaly.

METHODS

A retrospective chart review was conducted. Risk factors, treatment for positional head shape deformity, and parent-reported adherence were recorded. Univariate and multivariate analyses were used to assess the impact of patient clinical and demographic characteristics on adherence.

RESULTS

A total of 991 patients under age 12 months were evaluated for positional skull deformity at the Texas Children's Hospital Cranial Deformity Clinic between 2007 and 2014. According to an age- and risk factor–based treatment algorithm, patients were recommended for repositioning, physical therapy, or cranial orthosis therapy or crossover from repositioning/physical therapy into cranial orthosis therapy. The patients' average chronological age at presentation was 6.2 months; 69.3% were male. The majority were white (40.7%) or Hispanic (32.6%); 38.7% had commercial insurance and 37.9% had Medicaid. The most common initial recommended treatment was repositioning or physical therapy; 85.7% of patients were adherent to the initial recommended treatment.

Univariate analysis showed differences in adherence rates among subgroups. Children's families with Medicaid were less likely to be adherent to treatment recommendations (adherence rate, 80.2%). Families with commercial insurance were more likely to be adherent to the recommended treatment (89.6%). Multivariate logistic regression confirmed that factors associated with parent-reported adherence to recommended treatment included primary insurance payer, diagnosis (plagiocephaly vs brachycephaly), and the nature of the recommended treatment. Families were less likely to be adherent if they had Medicaid, a child with a diagnosis of brachycephaly, or were initially recommended for cranial orthosis therapy than families with commercial insurance, a child with a diagnosis of plagiocephaly, or an initial recommendation for repositioning or physical therapy.

Factors associated with treatment completion included corrected age, insurance, diagnosis, recommended treatment, and distance to provider from patient's residence. Patients with commercial insurance (OR 1.49, 95% CI 1.10–2.02, p = 0.009), those diagnosed with both brachycephaly and plagiocephaly (OR 2.26, 95% CI 1.31–3.90, p = 0.003), those recommended for treatment with cranial orthosis (OR 4.55, 95% CI = 3.24–6.38, p < 0.001), and those living in proximity to the provider (OR 1.40, 95% CI 1.00–1.96, p = 0.047) were more likely to complete treatment.

CONCLUSIONS

Insurance type, degree of head shape deformity, and types of recommended treatment appear to affect rates of adherence to recommended treatments for positional skull deformation.

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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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Daniel Hansen, Aditya Vedantam, Valentina Briceño, Sandi K. Lam, Thomas G. Luerssen and Andrew Jea

OBJECTIVE

The emphasis on health-related quality of life (HRQOL) outcomes is increasing, along with an emphasis on evidence-based medicine. However, there is a notable paucity of validated HRQOL instruments for the pediatric population. Furthermore, no standardization or consensus currently exists concerning which HRQOL outcome measures ought to be used in pediatric neurosurgery. The authors wished to identify HRQOL outcomes used in pediatric neurosurgery research over the past 10 years, their frequency, and usage trends.

METHODS

Three top pediatric neurosurgical journals were reviewed for the decade from 2005 to 2014 for clinical studies of pediatric neurosurgical procedures that report HRQOL outcomes. Similar studies in the peer-reviewed journal Pediatrics were also used as a benchmark. Publication year, level of evidence, and HRQOL outcomes were collected for each article.

RESULTS

A total of 31 HRQOL studies were published in the pediatric neurosurgical literature over the study period. By comparison, there were 55 such articles in Pediatrics. The number of publications using HRQOL instruments showed a significant positive trend over time for Pediatrics (B = 0.62, p = 0.02) but did not increase significantly over time for the 3 neurosurgical journals (B = 0.12, p = 0.5). The authors identified a total of 46 different HRQOL instruments used across all journals. Within the neurosurgical journals, the Hydrocephalus Outcome Questionnaire (HOQ) (24%) was the most frequently used, followed by the Health Utilities Index (HUI) (16%), the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory (PedsQL) (12%), and the 36-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) (12%). Of the 55 articles identified in Pediatrics, 22 (40%) used a version of the PedsQL. No neurosurgical study reached above Level 4 on the Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (OCEBM) system. However, multiple studies from Pediatrics achieved OCEBM Level 3, several were categorized as Level 2, and one reached Level 1.

CONCLUSIONS

The frequency of studies using HRQOL outcomes in pediatric neurosurgical research has not increased over the past 10 years. Within pediatric neurosurgery, high-quality studies and standardization are lacking, as compared with contemporary studies in Pediatrics. In general, although the HOQ, HUI, PedsQL, and SF-36 instruments are emerging as standards in pediatric neurosurgery, even greater standardization across the specialty is needed, along with the design and implementation of more rigorous studies.

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Sandi Lam, I-Wen Pan, Andrew Jea and Thomas G. Luerssen

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Jonathan N. Sellin, Aditya Vedantam, Thomas G. Luerssen and Andrew Jea

OBJECTIVE

The complication profile of epidural triamcinolone acetonide use during lumbar decompression surgery is not known. However, isolated reports of increased risk of delayed CSF leakage with the use of triamcinolone acetonide in adult spinal surgery patients have been published. The purpose of this study was to determine the safety of epidural triamcinolone acetonide use in conjunction with lumbar decompression surgery in pediatric patients.

METHODS

The medical records of all patients who underwent lumbar decompression surgery with or without discectomy between July 1, 2007, and July 31, 2015, were retrospectively reviewed.

RESULTS

During the study period, 58 patients underwent 59 spine procedures at Texas Children's Hospital. There were 33 female and 25 male patients. The mean age at surgery was 16.5 years (range 12–24 years). Patients were followed for an average of 38.2 months (range 4–97 months). Triamcinolone acetonide was used in 28 (of 35 total) cases of discectomy; there were no cases of delayed symptomatic CSF leaks (0%) in the minimally invasive and open discectomies. On the other hand, triamcinolone acetonide was used in 14 (of 24 total) cases of multilevel laminectomy, among which there were 10 delayed CSF leaks (71.4%) requiring treatment. The use of triamcinolone acetonide in patients who underwent multilevel laminectomy was significantly associated with an increased risk of delayed CSF leaks or pseudomeningoceles (Fisher's exact test, p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

There was an unacceptable incidence of delayed postoperative CSF leaks when epidural triamcinolone acetonide was used in patients who underwent multilevel laminectomy.

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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.