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  • By Author: Drake, James M. x
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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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Harold J. Hoffman, Hiroshi Otsubo, E. Bruce Hendrick, Robin P. Humphreys, James M. Drake, Laurence E. Becker, Mark Greenberg and Derek Jenkin

✓ All patients with confirmed intracranial germ-cell tumors treated at the Hospital of Sick Children during the period January, 1952, to December, 1989, were reviewed. Of the 51 tumors reviewed, 16 were located in the suprasellar region, 32 in the pineal region, and three in both the pineal and the suprasellar regions. Forty-nine patients underwent surgical resection which was total in seven and partial in 20, and consisted of a biopsy in 22. Two patients were managed on the basis of serum and cerebrospinal fluid markers. Surgical tools such as the operating microscope, the ultrasonic surgical aspirator, and the laser beam allowed safe debulking and removal of the deep-seated tumors in the pineal region. There were no operative deaths in the 36 patients treated since 1972, who included 23 with pineal tumors. Twenty-five patients with germinomas received radiotherapy and had a 5-year survival rate of 85.1%. Thirteen patients with non-germinoma germ-cell tumors received radiotherapy and had a 5-year survival rate of 45.5%. On the basis of this review, the authors recommend resection of pineal and suprasellar germ-cell tumors in order to firmly establish an accurate histological diagnosis to guide the extent of adjuvant therapy. In the case of a pure germinoma without evidence of dissemination, adjuvant therapy consists only of local radiotherapy. On the other hand, for malignant non-germinoma germ-cell tumors, adjuvant therapy must include chemotherapy as well as craniospinal axis radiotherapy.