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Joyce Koueik, Carolina Sandoval-Garcia, John R. W. Kestle, Brandon G. Rocque, David M. Frim, Gerald A. Grant, Robert F. Keating, Carrie R. Muh, W. Jerry Oakes, Ian F. Pollack, Nathan R. Selden, R. Shane Tubbs, Gerald F. Tuite, Benjamin Warf, Victoria Rajamanickam, Aimee Teo Broman, Victor Haughton, Susan Rebsamen, Timothy M. George and Bermans J. Iskandar


Despite significant advances in diagnostic and surgical techniques, the surgical management of Chiari malformation type I (CM-I) with associated syringomyelia remains controversial, and the type of surgery performed is surgeon dependent. This study’s goal was to determine the feasibility of a prospective, multicenter, cohort study for CM-I/syringomyelia patients and to provide pilot data that compare posterior fossa decompression and duraplasty (PFDD) with and without tonsillar reduction.


Participating centers prospectively enrolled children suffering from both CM-I and syringomyelia who were scheduled to undergo surgical decompression. Clinical data were entered into a database preoperatively and at 1–2 weeks, 3–6 months, and 1 year postoperatively. MR images were evaluated by 3 independent, blinded teams of neurosurgeons and neuroradiologists. The primary endpoint was improvement or resolution of the syrinx.


Eight clinical sites were chosen based on the results of a published questionnaire intended to remove geographic and surgeon bias. Data from 68 patients were analyzed after exclusions, and complete clinical and imaging records were obtained for 55 and 58 individuals, respectively. There was strong agreement among the 3 radiology teams, and there was no difference in patient demographics among sites, surgeons, or surgery types. Tonsillar reduction was not associated with > 50% syrinx improvement (RR = 1.22, p = 0.39) or any syrinx improvement (RR = 1.00, p = 0.99). There were no surgical complications.


This study demonstrated the feasibility of a prospective, multicenter surgical trial in CM-I/syringomyelia and provides pilot data indicating no discernible difference in 1-year outcomes between PFDD with and without tonsillar reduction, with power calculations for larger future studies. In addition, the study revealed important technical factors to consider when setting up future trials. The long-term sequelae of tonsillar reduction have not been addressed and would be an important consideration in future investigations.

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Michael A. Williams, James P. McAllister, Marion L. Walker, Dory A. Kranz, Marvin Bergsneider, Marc R. Del Bigio, Laurel Fleming, David M. Frim, Katrina Gwinn, John R. W. Kestle, Mark G. Luciano, Joseph R. Madsen, Mary Lou Oster-Granite and Giovanna Spinella


Treatment for hydrocephalus has not advanced appreciably since the advent of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) shunts more than 50 years ago. Many questions remain that clinical and basic research could address, which in turn could improve therapeutic options. To clarify the main issues facing hydrocephalus research and to identify critical advances necessary to improve outcomes for patients with hydrocephalus, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) sponsored a workshop titled “Hydrocephalus: Myths, New Facts, and Clear Directions.” The purpose of this paper is to report on the recommendations that resulted from that workshop.


The workshop convened from September 29 to October 1, 2005, in Bethesda, Maryland. Among the 150 attendees was an international group of participants, including experts in pediatric and adult hydrocephalus as well as scientists working in related fields, neurosurgeons, laboratory-based neuroscientists, neurologists, patient advocates, individuals with hydrocephalus, parents, and NIH program and intramural staff. Plenary and breakout sessions covered injury and recovery mechanisms, modeling, biomechanics, diagnosis, current treatment and outcomes, complications, quality of life, future treatments, medical devices, development of research networks and information sharing, and education and career development.


The conclusions were as follows: 1) current methods of diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes monitoring need improvement; 2) frequent complications, poor rate of shunt survival, and poor quality of life for patients lead to unsatisfactory outcomes; 3) investigators and caregivers need additional methods to monitor neurocognitive function and control of CSF variables such as pressure, flow, or pulsatility; 4) research warrants novel interdisciplinary approaches; 5) understanding of the pathophysiological and recovery mechanisms of neuronal function in hydrocephalus is poor, warranting further investigation; and 6) both basic and clinical aspects warrant expanded and innovative training programs.


The research priorities of this workshop provide critical guidance for future research in hydrocephalus, which should result in advances in knowledge, and ultimately in the treatment for this important disorder and improved outcomes in patients of all ages.