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Amy K. Bruzek, Jordan Starr, Hugh J. L. Garton, Karin M. Muraszko, Cormac O. Maher and Jennifer M. Strahle

OBJECTIVE

The nature of the relationship between spinal cord syrinx and tethered cord is not well known. It is unclear if surgical cord untethering results in resolution or improvement of an associated syrinx. The objective of this study was to report the response of spinal cord syrinx to surgical cord untethering.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed all patients with a syrinx and tethered cord who presented to a single institution over an 11-year interval. Patients with open neural tube defects were excluded. Thirty-one patients were identified, 25 of whom had both clinical and imaging follow-up after surgery. Patients were grouped according to etiology of the tethered cord. Clinical outcomes and syrinx characteristics were recorded.

RESULTS

Of the 25 patients with tethered cord, 68% (n = 17) were male. The average age at presentation was 2.5 years (0–10.1 years) and age at surgery was 3.7 years (range 1 day to 17 years). Etiologies of tethered cord were lipomyelomeningocele (n = 8), thickened/fatty filum (n = 7), intradural lipoma (n = 5), myelocystocele (n = 2), meningocele (n = 2), and diastematomyelia (n = 1). Twenty-three of the patients underwent primary untethering, whereas 2 patients had received untethering previously at another institution. The average syrinx length and width prior to surgery were 4.81 vertebral levels (SD 4.35) and 5.19 mm (SD 2.55 mm), respectively. Conus level ranged from L1 to S3. Patients were followed for an average of 8.4 years (1.35–15.85 years). Overall there was no significant change in syrinx length or width postoperatively; the average syrinx length increased by 0.86 vertebral levels (SD 4.36) and width decreased by 0.72 mm (SD 2.94 mm). Seven of 25 patients had improvement in at least one presenting symptom, including scoliosis, weakness, bowel/bladder dysfunction, and pain. Eight patients had stable presenting symptoms. Six patients were asymptomatic and 5 patients had new or worsening symptoms, which included scoliosis, pain, or sensory changes.

CONCLUSIONS

Although some syrinxes improved after surgery for tethered cord, radiological improvement was not consistent and did not appear to be associated with change in clinical symptoms. The decision to surgically untether a cord should be focused on the clinical symptoms and not the presence of a syrinx alone. Further studies are needed to confirm this finding.

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Osama N. Kashlan, D. Andrew Wilkinson, Hal Morgenstern, Siri S. Khalsa and Cormac O. Maher

OBJECTIVE

Thickened or fatty filum terminale is an occult lesion that can cause tethered cord syndrome requiring surgical untethering. This study’s objectives were to estimate the incidence of tethered fibrofatty filum terminale (TFFT) in a large insured pediatric population, identify predictors of surgery among those TFFT patients, and assess a diagnostic algorithm.

METHODS

TFFT was defined according to the ICD-9-CM code for cord tethering (742.59), after excluding codes for diastematomyelia, lipomyelomeningocele, terminal myelocystocele, meningocele, and myelomeningocele. Utilizing the Optum Insight database for 2001–2014, the authors identified pediatric patients (< 21 years) in the US who were diagnosed with a tethered cord and estimated the TFFT incidence rates in that source population and the surgical untethering probability among TFFT patients over the 14-year period. Logistic regression was used to estimate the effects (adjusted OR and 95% CI) of age at diagnosis, sex, Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI) score, diagnosis of Chiari malformation type I, diagnosis of syrinx, and the probability of surgery by US census region. Lastly, to evaluate their algorithm for identifying TFFT from ICD-9 codes, the authors estimated its positive predictive value (PPV) among 50 children who were diagnosed at their institution and met the ICD-9-CM criteria.

RESULTS

There were 3218 diagnoses of TFFT, with 482 of these pediatric patients undergoing tethered cord release during the study period. The estimated incidence rate was 12.0 per 100,000/year (95% CI 11.6–12.4 per 100,000/year). The incidence rate was slightly higher in females than in males (12.7 vs 11.4 per 100,000/year). The probability of surgery in the total pediatric TFFT population was 15.0% (95% CI 13.8%–16.2%) and was greater in children with a syrinx (OR 2.2, 95% CI 1.6–3.0), children 7–11 years of age at diagnosis versus < 1 year (OR 1.5, 95% CI 1.1–2.0), CCI score ≥ 3 versus 0 (OR 2.3, 95% CI 1.4–3.8), and residents of the Western vs Northeastern US (OR 2.3, 95% CI 1.6–3.5). In the authors’ own institution’s database, the PPV of TFFT was 35/50 (70.0%, 95% CI 57.3%–82.7%) for identifying tethered cord due to fibrofatty filum terminale among childhood positives.

CONCLUSIONS

Patients with comorbidities or an associated syrinx showed a higher risk of untethering procedures for TFFT. Also, surgery was appreciably more frequent in the Western US. These findings signify the need for a collaborative prospective cohort study of long-term outcomes for TFFT patients with and without surgery to determine which patients should have surgery.

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Cormac O. Maher

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Jennifer M. Strahle, Rukayat Taiwo, Christine Averill, James Torner, Chevis N. Shannon, Christopher M. Bonfield, Gerald F. Tuite, Tammy Bethel-Anderson, Jerrel Rutlin, Douglas L. Brockmeyer, John C. Wellons III, Jeffrey R. Leonard, Francesco T. Mangano, James M. Johnston, Manish N. Shah, Bermans J. Iskandar, Elizabeth C. Tyler-Kabara, David J. Daniels, Eric M. Jackson, Gerald A. Grant, Daniel E. Couture, P. David Adelson, Tord D. Alden, Philipp R. Aldana, Richard C. E. Anderson, Nathan R. Selden, Lissa C. Baird, Karin Bierbrauer, Joshua J. Chern, William E. Whitehead, Richard G. Ellenbogen, Herbert E. Fuchs, Daniel J. Guillaume, Todd C. Hankinson, Mark R. Iantosca, W. Jerry Oakes, Robert F. Keating, Nickalus R. Khan, Michael S. Muhlbauer, J. Gordon McComb, Arnold H. Menezes, John Ragheb, Jodi L. Smith, Cormac O. Maher, Stephanie Greene, Michael Kelly, Brent R. O’Neill, Mark D. Krieger, Mandeep Tamber, Susan R. Durham, Greg Olavarria, Scellig S. D. Stone, Bruce A. Kaufman, Gregory G. Heuer, David F. Bauer, Gregory Albert, Jeffrey P. Greenfield, Scott D. Wait, Mark D. Van Poppel, Ramin Eskandari, Timothy Mapstone, Joshua S. Shimony, Ralph G. Dacey Jr., Matthew D. Smyth, Tae Sung Park and David D. Limbrick Jr.

OBJECTIVE

Scoliosis is frequently a presenting sign of Chiari malformation type I (CM-I) with syrinx. The authors’ goal was to define scoliosis in this population and describe how radiological characteristics of CM-I and syrinx relate to the presence and severity of scoliosis.

METHODS

A large multicenter retrospective and prospective registry of pediatric patients with CM-I (tonsils ≥ 5 mm below the foramen magnum) and syrinx (≥ 3 mm in axial width) was reviewed for clinical and radiological characteristics of CM-I, syrinx, and scoliosis (coronal curve ≥ 10°).

RESULTS

Based on available imaging of patients with CM-I and syrinx, 260 of 825 patients (31%) had a clear diagnosis of scoliosis based on radiographs or coronal MRI. Forty-nine patients (5.9%) did not have scoliosis, and in 516 (63%) patients, a clear determination of the presence or absence of scoliosis could not be made. Comparison of patients with and those without a definite scoliosis diagnosis indicated that scoliosis was associated with wider syrinxes (8.7 vs 6.3 mm, OR 1.25, p < 0.001), longer syrinxes (10.3 vs 6.2 levels, OR 1.18, p < 0.001), syrinxes with their rostral extent located in the cervical spine (94% vs 80%, OR 3.91, p = 0.001), and holocord syrinxes (50% vs 16%, OR 5.61, p < 0.001). Multivariable regression analysis revealed syrinx length and the presence of holocord syrinx to be independent predictors of scoliosis in this patient cohort. Scoliosis was not associated with sex, age at CM-I diagnosis, tonsil position, pB–C2 distance (measured perpendicular distance from the ventral dura to a line drawn from the basion to the posterior-inferior aspect of C2), clivoaxial angle, or frontal-occipital horn ratio. Average curve magnitude was 29.9°, and 37.7% of patients had a left thoracic curve. Older age at CM-I or syrinx diagnosis (p < 0.0001) was associated with greater curve magnitude whereas there was no association between syrinx dimensions and curve magnitude.

CONCLUSIONS

Syrinx characteristics, but not tonsil position, were related to the presence of scoliosis in patients with CM-I, and there was an independent association of syrinx length and holocord syrinx with scoliosis. Further study is needed to evaluate the nature of the relationship between syrinx and scoliosis in patients with CM-I.

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Jayapalli Rajiv Bapuraj, Amy K. Bruzek, Jamaal K. Tarpeh, Lindsey Pelissier, Hugh J. L. Garton, Richard C. E. Anderson, Bin Nan, Tianwen Ma and Cormac O. Maher

OBJECTIVE

Current understanding of how the pediatric craniocervical junction develops remains incomplete. Measurements of anatomical relationships at the craniocervical junction can influence clinical and surgical decision-making. The purpose of this analysis was to quantitatively define clinically relevant craniocervical junction measurements in a population of children with CT scans that show normal anatomy.

METHODS

A total of 1458 eligible patients were identified from children between 1 and 18 years of age who underwent cervical spine CT scanning at a single institution. Patients were separated by both sex and age in years into 34 groups. Following this, patients within each group were randomly selected for inclusion until a target of 15 patients in each group had been reached. Each patient underwent measurement of the occipital condyle–C1 interval (CCI), pB–C2, atlantodental interval (ADI), basion-dens interval (BDI), basion-opisthion diameter (BOD), basion-axial interval (BAI), dens angulation, and canal diameter at C1. Mean values were calculated in each group. Each measurement was performed by two teams and compared for intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC).

RESULTS

The data showed that CCI, ADI, BDI, and dens angulation decrease in magnitude throughout childhood, while pB–C2, PADI, BAI, and BOD increase throughout childhood, with an ICC of fair to good (range 0.413–0.912). Notably, CCI decreases continuously on coronal CT scans, whereas on parasagittal CT scans, CCI does not decrease until after age 9, when it shows a continuous decline similar to measurements on coronal CT scans.

CONCLUSIONS

These morphometric analyses establish parameters for normal pediatric craniocervical spine growth for each year of life up to 18 years. The data should be considered when evaluating children for potential surgical intervention.

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Sonia Ajmera, Ryan P. Lee, Andrew Schultz, David S. Hersh, Jacob Lepard, Raymond Xu, Hassan Saad, Olutomi Akinduro, Melissa Justo, Brittany D. Fraser, Mustafa Motiwala, Pooja Dave, Brian Jimenez, David A. Wallace, Olufemi Osikoya, Sebastian Norrdahl, Jennings H. Dooley, Nickalus R. Khan, Brandy N. Vaughn, Cormac O. Maher and Paul Klimo Jr.

OBJECTIVE

The objective of this study was to analyze the publication output of postgraduate pediatric neurosurgery fellows for a 10-year period as well as identify 25 individual highly productive pediatric neurosurgeons. The correlation between academic productivity and the site of fellowship training was studied.

METHODS

Programs certified by the Accreditation Council for Pediatric Neurosurgery Fellowships that had 5 or more graduating fellows from 2006 to 2015 were included for analysis. Fellows were queried using Scopus for publications during those 10 years with citation data through 2017. Pearson correlation coefficients were calculated, comparing program rankings of faculty against fellows using the revised Hirsch index (r-index; primary) and Hirsch index (h-index; secondary). A list of 25 highly accomplished individual academicians and their fellowship training locations was compiled.

RESULTS

Sixteen programs qualified with 152 fellows from 2006 to 2015; 136 of these surgeons published a total of 2009 articles with 23,735 citations. Most publications were pediatric-specific (66.7%) clinical articles (93.1%), with middle authorship (55%). Co-investigators were more likely from residency than fellowship. There was a clustering of the top 7 programs each having total publications of around 120 or greater, publications per fellow greater than 12, more than 1200 citations, and adjusted ir10 (revised 10-year institutional h-index) and ih10 (10-year institutional h-index) values of approximately 2 or higher. Correlating faculty and fellowship program rankings yielded correlation coefficients ranging from 0.53 to 0.80. Fifteen individuals (60%) in the top 25 (by r5 index) list completed their fellowship at 1 of these 7 institutions.

CONCLUSIONS

Approximately 90% of fellowship-trained pediatric neurosurgeons have 1 or more publications, but the spectrum of output is broad. There is a strong correlation between where surgeons complete their fellowships and postgraduate publications.

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Sravanthi Koduri, D. Andrew Wilkinson, Julius M. Griauzde, Joseph J. Gemmete and Cormac O. Maher

Moyamoya syndrome predisposes patients to ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke due to progressive narrowing of intracranial vessels with subsequent small-vessel collateralization. Dural arteriovenous fistulae (DAVFs) are most commonly noted after venous sinus or cortical vein thrombosis and are believed to be primarily due to venous hypertension and elevated sinus pressures, although there is no known association with moyamoya syndrome, or with surgical treatment for moyamoya disease (MMD). The authors present the case of a 14-year-old girl with Down syndrome treated using pial synangiosis for MMD who subsequently was noted to have bilateral DAVFs. This case provides a new perspective on the origins and underlying pathophysiology of both moyamoya syndrome and DAVFs, and also serves to highlight the importance of monitoring the moyamoya population closely for de novo cerebrovascular changes after revascularization procedures.

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Jeffrey L. Nadel, R. Michael Scott, Susan R. Durham and Cormac O. Maher

OBJECTIVE

The goal of this study was to evaluate trends in pediatric neurosurgical fellowship training in North America.

METHODS

From a database maintained by the Accreditation Council for Pediatric Neurosurgery Fellowships (ACPNF), all graduates of ACPNF-accredited pediatric neurosurgery fellowships were identified, and an Internet search was conducted to determine sex, undergraduate and graduate degrees, location and dates of residency and fellowship training, current practice/employment environment, American Board of Neurological Surgery (ABNS) or Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons certification status, American Board of Pediatric Neurological Surgery (ABPNS) certification status, and extent of current pediatric-focused practice. The graduates were further studied to determine whether they had completed a neurosurgical residency at a program with an affiliated ACPNF-accredited pediatric neurosurgery fellowship program, and their residency training programs were further classified by whether the program was ranked in the top 50 by NIH funding awards. Each fellowship graduate’s current practice was also ranked in a similar fashion.

RESULTS

There were 391 graduates of ACPNF-accredited pediatric neurosurgery fellowship programs from 1993 to 2018. The number of graduates per year has grown steadily over time, as has the percentage of women, now over 40% compared to zero in the first 3 years of fellowship accreditation in the mid-1990s. Approximately 71% of graduating fellows have a pediatric-focused practice, but only 63% went on to attain ABPNS certification. Of all graduates practicing in the United States, 68% practice in academic settings. Ninety-five percent of graduating fellows who were ABNS board eligible were ABNS certified.

CONCLUSIONS

A study of the graduates of accredited pediatric neurosurgical fellowships from 1993 to 2018 has revealed a growth in the number of graduates from ACPNF-accredited fellowship programs over time. A substantial portion of graduates will practice at least some adult neurosurgery and not go on to obtain ABPNS board certification.

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Jeffrey L. Nadel, D. Andrew Wilkinson, Hugh J. L. Garton, Karin M. Muraszko and Cormac O. Maher

OBJECTIVE

The goal of this study was to determine the rates of screening and surgery for foramen magnum stenosis in children with achondroplasia in a large, privately insured healthcare network.

METHODS

Rates of screening and surgery for foramen magnum stenosis in children with achondroplasia were determined using de-identified insurance claims data from a large, privately insured healthcare network of over 58 million beneficiaries across the United States between 2001 and 2014. Cases of achondroplasia and screening and surgery claims were identified using a combination of International Classification of Diseases diagnosis codes and Current Procedural Terminology codes. American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) practice guidelines were used to determine screening trends.

RESULTS

The search yielded 3577 children age 19 years or younger with achondroplasia. Of them, 236 met criteria for inclusion in the screening analysis. Among the screening cohort, 41.9% received some form of screening for foramen magnum stenosis, whereas 13.9% of patients were fully and appropriately screened according to the 2005 guidelines from the AAP. The screening rate significantly increased after the issuance of the AAP guidelines. Among all children in the cohort, 25 underwent cervicomedullary decompression for foramen magnum stenosis. The incidence rate of undergoing cervicomedullary decompression was highest in infancy (28 per 1000 patient-years) and decreased with age (5 per 1000 patient-years for all other ages combined).

CONCLUSIONS

Children with achondroplasia continue to be underscreened for foramen magnum stenosis, although screening rates have improved since the release of the 2005 AAP surveillance guidelines. The incidence of surgery was highest in infants and decreased with age.

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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.