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  • By Author: Luerssen, Thomas G. x
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Rory R. Mayer, Steven W. Hwang, Gaddum D. Reddy, David L. Morales, William E. Whitehead, Daniel J. Curry, Robert J. Bollo, Thomas G. Luerssen and Andrew Jea

Object

Left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) are continuous or pulsatile flow devices that could potentially be life-saving measures for patients with end-stage heart failure. These devices have clear advantages over extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) and are often used in adults. They are only recently being commonly used in the pediatric age group. As the use of LVADs becomes more mainstream in children, it is important to determine the complication profile associated with these devices. Furthermore, with the increasing application of LVADs in children, pediatric neurosurgeons are seeing a correlative increase in associated neurological complications. In this study, the authors reviewed the incidence of neurological complications due to LVAD use in the pediatric age group and the role of neurosurgery in treatment.

Methods

The authors examined data regarding patients with LVADs from the Texas Children's Hospital Heart Center database (July 01, 2007, to June 30, 2011) and recorded neurological complications requiring neurosurgical consultation. They identified 2 children who underwent craniotomies during LVAD treatment.

Results

Intracranial hemorrhage occurred in 3 (6.5%) of the 46 patients treated with an LVAD at the authors' institution. Of these patients, 2 were treated with craniotomies for life-threatening intracranial hemorrhages. The 3 patients in the neurosurgical cohort presented with cerebral infarction, decreased level of consciousness, and/or seizure. At the last follow-up (286, 503, and 550 days), 1 patient (Case 2) had no decline in neurological status, underwent a successful heart transplant, and was discharged home; 1 patient (Case 1) died of refractory cardiac failure; and 1 patient (Case 3) was on an LVAD for destination therapy (that is, the LVAD is not a bridge to transplantation but rather the final treatment). This patient was discharged from the hospital, but he died of overwhelming fungemia at 286 days while on VAD support.

Conclusions

Intracranial hemorrhage is a serious and feared complication of LVAD treatment. While the surgical risk is substantial due to systemic anticoagulation and significant medical comorbidities, neurosurgical evacuation of hemorrhage plays an important life-saving role that can yield successful and acceptable outcomes.

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Steven W. Hwang, Loyola V. Gressot, Leonardo Rangel-Castilla, William E. Whitehead, Daniel J. Curry, Robert J. Bollo, Thomas G. Luerssen and Andrew Jea

Object

The most common cause of cervical spine arthrodesis in the pediatric population is instability related to congenital or traumatic pathology. Instrumenting the cervical spine can be challenging given smaller anatomical structures, less ossified bone, and future growth potential and development. Studies in adult patients have suggested that using screw constructs results in improved outcomes with lower rates of instrumentation failure. However, the pediatric literature is limited to small retrospective series. Based on a review of the literature and their own patient series, the authors report that instrumenting the pediatric cervical spine with screw constructs may be safer and more effective than using wiring techniques.

Methods

The authors reviewed the existing pediatric cervical spine arthrodesis literature and contributed 31 of their own cases from September 1, 2007, to January 1, 2011. They reviewed 204 abstracts from January 1, 1966, to December 31, 2010, and 80 manuscripts with 883 total patients were included in the review. They recorded demographic, radiographic, and outcomes data—as well as surgical details—with a focus on fusion rates and complications.

Patients were then grouped into categories based upon the procedure performed: 1) patients who underwent fusions bridging the occipitocervical junction and 2) patients who underwent fusion of the cervical spine that did not include the occiput, thus including atlantoaxial and subaxial fusions. Patients were further subdivided according to the type of instrumentation used—some had posterior cervical fusion with wiring (with or without rod implantation); others had posterior cervical fusion with screws.

Results

The entire series comprised 914 patients with a mean age of 8.30 years. Congenital abnormalities were encountered most often (in 55% of cases), and patients had a mean follow-up of 32.5 months. From the entire cohort, 242 patients (26%) experienced postsurgical complications, and 50 patients (5%) had multiple complications. The overall fusion rate was 94.4%.

For occipitocervical fusions (N = 285), both screw and wiring groups had very high fusion rates (99% and 95%, respectively, p = 0.08). However, wiring was associated with a higher complication rate. From a sample of 252 patients, 14% of those treated with screw instrumentation had complications, compared with 50% of patients treated with wiring (p < 0.05).

In cervical fusions not involving the occipitocervical junction (N = 181), screw constructs had a 99% fusion rate, whereas wire instrumentation only had an 83% fusion rate (p < 0.05). Similarly, patients who underwent screw fixation had a lower complication profile (15%) when compared with those treated with wiring constructs (54%, p < 0.05).

Conclusions

The results of this study are limited by variations in construct design, use of orthoses, follow-up duration, and newer adjuvant products promoting fusions. However, a literature review and the authors' own series of pediatric cases suggest that instrumentation of the cervical spine in children may be safer and more efficacious using screw constructs rather than wiring techniques.

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Loyola V. Gressot, Carrie A. Mohila, Andrew Jea, Thomas G. Luerssen and Robert J. Bollo

Nonterminal myelocystocele is a rare type of spinal dysraphism characterized by a closed defect with an underlying CSF-filled cyst, either contiguous with the central spinal canal or attached to the spinal cord by a fibrovascular stalk. The authors report the unusual case of a neonate with a prenatal diagnosis of cervicothoracic nonterminal myelocystocele who underwent postnatal surgical untethering of the lesion. Pathological analysis of the excised lesion revealed neuroglial tissue with an ependymal lining associated with a mature teratoma. Three months after surgery, the patient has normal lower-extremity sensorimotor function and no evidence of bowel or bladder dysfunction. To the best of the authors' knowledge, this is the first report of a patient with a nonterminal myelocystocele found to have an associated mature teratoma.

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Caroline Hadley, Loyola V. Gressot, Akash J. Patel, Lisa L. Wang, Ricardo J. Flores, William E. Whitehead, Thomas G. Luerssen, Andrew Jea and Robert J. Bollo

Cranial osteosarcoma is very rare in children, rendering the development of optimal treatment algorithms challenging. The authors present 3 cases of pediatric cranial osteosarcoma: a primary calvarial tumor, a cranial metastasis, and a primary osteosarcoma of the cranial base. A review of the literature demonstrates significant variation in the management of cranial osteosarcomas and the outcome for patients with these tumors. This series and literature review is presented to improve the understanding of pediatric cranial osteosarcoma and to reinforce the importance of maximal resection in optimizing outcome.

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Akash J. Patel, Ahilan Sivaganesan, Robert J. Bollo, Alison Brayton, Thomas G. Luerssen and Andrew Jea

Object

Recent attempts to control health care costs focus on reducing or eliminating payments for complications, hospital-acquired conditions, and provider preventable conditions, with payment restrictions applied uniformly. A patient's preexisting comorbidities likely influence the perioperative complication incidence. This relationship has not previously been examined in pediatric neurosurgery.

Methods

The authors conducted a retrospective assessment of prospectively collected relevant patient comorbidities and morbidity and mortality events at a large pediatric neurosurgical unit over a 5-year period. The authors examined the impact of specific comorbidities and the cumulative effect of multiple comorbidities on complication incidence.

Results

A total of 1990 patients underwent 3195 procedures at the authors' institution during the 5-year study period. Overall, 396 complications were analyzed; 298 patients (15.0%) experienced at least one complication. One or more comorbidities were present in 45.9% of patients. Renal comorbidities were clearly associated with the increased incidence of complications (p = 0.02), and they were specifically associated with infection (p = 0.006). Neurological comorbidities had a borderline association with complications (p = 0.05), and they were specifically associated with death (p = 0.037). A patient's having more comorbidities did not correlate with an increased risk of a perioperative complication (p = 0.8275).

Conclusions

The complication incidence in pediatric neurosurgery is variable and may be influenced by the type of neurosurgical procedure and patient-related factors. While patient-related factors beyond the control of the provider can significantly impact complications and hospital-acquired conditions in pediatric neurosurgery, an increasing number of comorbidities do not correlate with an increased risk of complications per patient.