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  • Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics x
  • By Author: Luerssen, Thomas G. x
  • By Author: Ryan, Sheila L. x
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Virendra Desai, David Gonda, Sheila L. Ryan, Valentina Briceño, Sandi K. Lam, Thomas G. Luerssen, Sohail H. Syed and Andrew Jea

OBJECT

Several studies have indicated that the 30-day morbidity and mortality risks are higher among pediatric and adult patients who are admitted on the weekends. This “weekend effect” has been observed among patients admitted with and fora variety of diagnoses and procedures, including myocardial infarction, pulmonary embolism, ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm, stroke, peptic ulcer disease, and pediatric surgery. In this study, morbidity and mortality outcomes for emergency pediatric neurosurgical procedures carried out on the weekend or after hours are compared with emergency surgical procedures performed during regular weekday business hours.

METHODS

A retrospective analysis of operative data was conducted. Between December 1, 2011, and August 20, 2014, a total of 710 urgent or emergency neurosurgical procedures were performed at Texas Children’s Hospital in children younger than than 18 years of age. These procedures were then stratified into 3 groups: weekday regular hours, weekday after hours, and weekend hours. By cross-referencing these events with a prospectively collected morbidity and mortality database, the impact of the day and time on complication incidence was examined. Outcome metrics were compared using logistic regression models.

RESULTS

The weekday regular hours and after-hours (weekday after hours and weekends) surgery groups consisted of 341 and 239 patients and 434 and 276 procedures, respectively. There were no significant differences in the types of cases performed (p = 0.629) or baseline preoperative health status as determined by American Society of Anesthesiologists classifications (p = 0.220) between the 2 cohorts. After multivariate adjustment and regression, children undergoing emergency neurosurgical procedures during weekday after hours or weekends were more likely to experience complications (p = 0.0227).

CONCLUSIONS

Weekday after-hours and weekend emergency pediatric neurosurgical procedures are associated with significantly increased 30-day morbidity and mortality risk compared with procedures performed during weekday regular hours.

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David D. Gonda, Jared Fridley, Sheila L. Ryan, Valentina Briceño, Sandi K. Lam, MD MBA, Thomas G. Luerssen and Andrew Jea

OBJECT

Low-molecular-weight heparins (LMWHs), mainly enoxaparin, offer several advantages over standard anticoagulation therapies such as unfractionated heparin and warfarin, including predictable pharmacokinetics, minimal monitoring, and subcutaneous administration. The purpose of this study was to determine the safety and efficacy of LMWHs in pediatric neurosurgical patients.

METHODS

A retrospective study was performed with patients 18 years old or younger who were admitted to the Pediatric Neurosurgery Service at Texas Children's Hospital and treated with LMWH for either therapeutic or prophylactic purposes between March 1, 2011, and December 30, 2013. Demographic and clinical features and outcomes were recorded.

RESULTS

LMWH was administered for treatment of venous thromboembolic events (VTEs) in 17 children and for prophylaxis in 24 children. Clinical resolution of VTEs occurred in 100% (17 of 17) of patients receiving therapeutic doses of LMWH. No patient receiving prophylactic doses of LMWH developed a new VTE. Major or minor bleeding complications occurred in 18% (3 of 17 children) and 4% (1 of 24 children) of those receiving therapeutic and prophylactic doses, respectively. All 4 patients who experienced hemorrhagic complications had other bleeding risk factors—i.e., coagulopathies and antiplatelet medications.

CONCLUSIONS

LMWH seems to be safe and efficacious for both management and prophylaxis of VTEs in pediatric neurosurgery. However, pediatric practitioners should be aware of higher risk for bleeding complications with increasing doses of LMWH, especially in patients with preexisting bleeding disorders or concurrent use of antiplatelet agents.

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Christina Sayama, Caroline Hadley, Gina N. Monaco, Anish Sen, Alison Brayton, Valentina Briceño, Brandon H. Tran, Sheila L. Ryan, Thomas G. Luerssen, Daniel Fulkerson and Andrew Jea

OBJECT

The purpose of this study focusing on fusion rate was to determine the efficacy of recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein–2 (rhBMP-2) use in posterior instrumented fusions of the craniocervical junction in the pediatric population. The authors previously reported the short-term (mean follow-up 11 months) safety and efficacy of rhBMP-2 use in the pediatric age group. The present study reports on their long-term results (minimum of 12 months' follow-up) and focuses on efficacy.

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective review of 83 consecutive pediatric patients who had undergone posterior occipitocervical or atlantoaxial spine fusion at Texas Children's Hospital or Riley Children's Hospital during the period from October 2007 to October 2012. Forty-nine patients were excluded from further analysis because of death, loss to follow-up, or lack of CT evaluation of fusion at 12 or more months after surgery. Fusion was determined by postoperative CT scan at a minimum of 12 months after surgery. The fusion was graded and classified by a board-certified fellowship-trained pediatric neuroradiologist. Other factors, such as patient age, diagnosis, number of vertebral levels fused, use of allograft or autograft, dosage of bone morphogenetic protein (BMP), and use of postoperative orthosis, were recorded.

RESULTS

Thirty-four patients had a CT scan at least 12 months after surgery. The average age of the patients at surgery was 8 years, 1 month (range 10 months–17 years). The mean follow-up was 27.7 months (range 12–81 months). There were 37 fusion procedures in 34 patients. Solid fusion (CT Grade 4 or 4−) was achieved in 89.2% of attempts (33 of 37), while incomplete fusion or failure of fusion was seen in 10.8%. Based on logistic regression analysis, there was no significant association between solid fusion and age, sex, BMP dose, type of graft material, use of postoperative orthosis, or number of levels fused. Three of 34 patients (8.8%) required revision surgery.

CONCLUSIONS

Despite the large number of adult studies reporting positive effects of BMP on bone fusion, our long-term outcomes using rhBMP-2 in the pediatric population suggest that rates of fusion failure are higher than observed in contemporary adult and pediatric reports of occipitocervical and atlantoaxial spine fusions.

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Christina Sayama, Matthew Willsey, Murali Chintagumpala, Alison Brayton, Valentina Briceño, Sheila L. Ryan, Thomas G. Luerssen, Steven W. Hwang and Andrew Jea

OBJECT

The aim of this study was to determine the safety of recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein–2 (rhBMP-2) use in posterior instrumented fusions in the pediatric population, focusing on cancer risk. In a previous study, the authors reported the short-term (mean follow-up of 11 months) safety and efficacy of rhBMP-2 in the pediatric age group. The present study reports their results with a minimum of 24 months' follow-up.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed 57 consecutive cases involving pediatric patients who underwent posterior occiptocervical, cervical, thoracic, lumbar, or lumbosacral spine fusion from October 1, 2007, to June 30, 2011, at Texas Children's Hospital. Seven cases were excluded from further analysis because of loss to follow-up. Three patients died during the follow-up period and were placed in a separate cohort.

RESULTS

The patients' average age at the time of surgery was 11 years, 4 months (range 9 months to 20 years). The mean duration of follow-up was 48.4 months (range 24–70 months). Cancer status was determined at the most recent encounter with the patient and/or caretaker(s) in person, or in telephone follow-up. Twenty-four or more months after administration of rhBMP-2, there were no cases of new malignancy, degeneration, or metastasis of existing tumors. The cause of death of the patients who died during the study period was not related to BMP or to the development, degeneration, or metastasis of cancer.

CONCLUSIONS

Despite the large number of adult studies reporting increased cancer risk associated with BMP use, the authors' outcomes with rhBMP-2 in the pediatric population suggest that it is a safe adjunct to posterior spine fusions of the occipitocervical, cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and lumbosacral spine. There were no new cases of cancer, or degeneration or metastasis of existing malignancies in this series.

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Sheila L. Ryan, Anish Sen, Kristen Staggers, Thomas G. Luerssen and Andrew Jea

Object

Quality improvement methods are being implemented in various areas of medicine. In an effort to reduce the complex (instrumented) spine infection rate in pediatric patients, a standardized protocol was developed and implemented at an institution with a high case volume of instrumented spine fusion procedures in the pediatric age group.

Methods

Members of the Texas Children's Hospital Spine Study Group developed the protocol incrementally by using the current literature and prior institutional experience until consensus was obtained. The protocol was prospectively applied to all children undergoing complex spine surgery starting August 21, 2012. Acute infections were defined as positive wound cultures within 12 weeks of surgery, defined in alignment with current hospital infection control criteria. Procedures and infections were measured before and after protocol implementation. This protocol received full review and approval of the Baylor College of Medicine institutional review board.

Results

Nine spine surgeons performed 267 procedures between August 21, 2012, and September 30, 2013. The minimum follow-up was 12 weeks. The annual institutional infection rate prior to the protocol (2007–2011) ranged from 3.4% to 8.9%, with an average of 5.8%. After introducing the protocol, the infection rate decreased to 2.2% (6 infections of 267 cases) (p = 0.0362; absolute risk reduction 3.6%; relative risk 0.41 [95% CI 0.18–0.94]). Overall compliance with data form completion was 63.7%. In 4 of the 6 cases of infection, noncompliance with completion of the data collection form was documented; moreover, 2 of the 4 spine surgeons whose patients experienced infections had the lowest compliance rates in the study group.

Conclusions

The standardized protocol for complex spine surgery significantly reduced surgical site infection at the authors' institution. The overall compliance with entry into the protocol was good. Identification of factors associated with post–spine surgery wound infection will allow further protocol refinement in the future.

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Jonathan N. Sellin, Jacob Cherian, James M. Barry, Sheila L. Ryan, Thomas G. Luerssen and Andrew Jea

Object

It is common to evaluate children with suspected CSF shunt malfunctions using CT of the head or, more recently, “quick brain” MRI. However, the reliability of using ventricular behavior, as assessed on cranial imaging during previous presentations with shunt obstructions, is not well defined. The authors conducted a study to determine if CT or MRI of ventricular morphology added useful clinical information in the evaluation of shunt malfunctions.

Methods

A retrospective chart review of children operated on at Texas Children's Hospital from February 20, 2011, to June 18, 2013, for shunt obstruction was conducted. Inclusion criteria involved age 3 years or older in patients who had undergone two or more shunt revisions for intraoperatively confirmed obstructions. Patients with shunt infection but without shunt obstruction and patients with fourth ventricular shunt failure were excluded from the study. Preoperative CT or MRI results were dichotomized into two distinct categories, as determined by a radiologist's report: either dilation of the ventricular system in comparison with prior scans at points the shunt was deemed functional, or no dilation of the ventricular system in comparison such scans. Determination of the presence of shunt obstruction was assessed by findings documented by the surgeon in the operative report. Each case was then analyzed to see if the patient has a reliable pattern of ventricular dilation, or no dilation, at times of shunt obstruction.

Results

Forty-two patients (25 males and 17 females) were included in the study. There were a total of 117 patient encounters analyzed and an average of 2.79 encounters per patient. The mean age at shunt failure presentation was 10.8 years (range 3–23 years). In 4 encounters, patients presented with a CSF leak or pseudomeningocele. Twenty-seven patients (64%) consistently demonstrated dilation of the ventricular system during episodes of shunt obstruction. Four patients (10%) consistently demonstrated no dilation during episodes of shunt obstruction. Eleven patients (26%) demonstrated inconsistent changes in ventricular size at times of shunt obstruction. In those first patient encounters with shunt obstruction presenting with ventricular dilation, 92% (49 of 53) of subsequent encounters demonstrated ventricular dilation with shunt obstruction presentations.

Conclusions

Historical CT or MRI data regarding ventricular morphology patterns seen during prior examinations of shunt obstructions may inform a clinician's judgment of shunt obstruction on subsequent presentations, but they are not conclusive. In the present series, the authors found that changes in the morphology of a given patient's ventricular system when shunt obstruction occurs were often consistent and predictable, but not always. It remains imperative, however, that cranial images obtained to rule out shunt malfunction be compared with prior studies.