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Tofey J. Leon, Elizabeth N. Kuhn, Anastasia A. Arynchyna, Burkely P. Smith, R. Shane Tubbs, James M. Johnston, Jeffrey P. Blount, Curtis J. Rozzelle, W. Jerry Oakes and Brandon G. Rocque

OBJECTIVE

There are sparse published data on the natural history of “benign” Chiari I malformation (CM-I)—i.e., Chiari with minimal or no symptoms at presentation and no imaging evidence of syrinx, hydrocephalus, or spinal cord signal abnormality. The purpose of this study was to review a large cohort of children with benign CM-I and to determine whether these children become symptomatic and require surgical treatment.

METHODS

Patients were identified from institutional outpatient records using International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision, diagnosis codes for CM-I from 1996 to 2016. After review of the medical records, patients were excluded if they 1) did not have a diagnosis of CM-I, 2) were not evaluated by a neurosurgeon, 3) had previously undergone posterior fossa decompression, or 4) had imaging evidence of syringomyelia at their first appointment. To include only patients with benign Chiari (without syrinx or classic Chiari symptoms that could prompt immediate intervention), any patient who underwent decompression within 9 months of initial evaluation was excluded. After a detailed chart review, patients were excluded if they had classical Chiari malformation symptoms at presentation. The authors then determined what changes in the clinical picture prompted surgical treatment. Patients were excluded from the multivariate logistic regression analysis if they had missing data such as race and insurance; however, these patients were included in the overall survival analysis.

RESULTS

A total of 427 patients were included for analysis with a median follow-up duration of 25.5 months (range 0.17–179.1 months) after initial evaluation. Fifteen patients had surgery at a median time of 21.0 months (range 11.3–139.3 months) after initial evaluation. The most common indications for surgery were tussive headache in 5 (33.3%), syringomyelia in 5 (33.3%), and nontussive headache in 5 (33.3%). Using the Kaplan-Meier method, rate of freedom from posterior fossa decompression was 95.8%, 94.1%, and 93.1% at 3, 5, and 10 years, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS

Among a large cohort of patients with benign CM-I, progression of imaging abnormalities or symptoms that warrant surgical treatment is infrequent. Therefore, these patients should be managed conservatively. However, clinical follow-up of such individuals is justified, as there is a low, but nonzero, rate of new symptom or syringomyelia development. Future analyses will determine whether imaging or clinical features present at initial evaluation are associated with progression and future need for treatment.

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Joshua J. Chern, Mitchel Muhleman, R. Shane Tubbs, Joseph H. Miller, James M. Johnston, John C. Wellons III, Jeffrey P. Blount, W. Jerry Oakes and Curtis J. Rozzelle

Object

Most children with spina bifida aperta have implanted CSF shunts. However, the efficacy of adding surveillance imaging to clinical evaluation during routine follow-up as a means to minimize the hazard of shunt failure has not been thoroughly studied.

Methods

A total of 396 clinic visits were made by patients with spina bifida aperta and shunt-treated hydrocephalus in a spina bifida specialty clinic during the calendar years 2008 and 2009 (initial clinic visit). All visits were preceded by a 6-month period during which no shunt evaluation of any kind was performed and were followed by a subsequent visit in the same clinic. At the initial clinic visit, 230 patients were evaluated by a neurosurgeon (clinical evaluation group), and 166 patients underwent previously scheduled surveillance CT scans in addition to clinical evaluation (surveillance imaging group). Subsequent unexpected events, defined as emergency department (ED) visits and caregiver-requested clinic visits, were reviewed. The time to an unexpected event and the likelihood of event occurrence in each of the 2 groups were compared using Cox proportional hazards survival analysis. The outcome and complications of shunt surgeries were also reviewed.

Results

The clinical characteristics of the 2 groups were similar. In the clinical evaluation group, 2 patients underwent shunt revision based on clinical findings in the initial visit. In the subsequent follow-up period, there were 27 visits to the ED and 25 requested clinic visits that resulted in 12 shunt revisions. In the surveillance imaging group, 11 patients underwent shunt revision based on clinical and imaging findings in the initial visit. In the subsequent follow-up period, there were 15 visits to the ED and 9 requested clinic visits that resulted in 8 shunt revisions. Patients who underwent surveillance imaging on the day of initial clinic visit were less likely to have an unexpected event in the subsequent follow-up period (relative risk 0.579, p = 0.026). The likelihood of needing shunt revision and the morbidity of shunt malfunction was not significantly different between the 2 groups.

Conclusions

Surveillance imaging in children with spina bifida aperta and shunted hydrocephalus decreases the likelihood of ED visits and caregiver-requested clinic visits in the follow-up period, but based on this study, its effect on mortality and morbidity related to shunt malfunction was less clear.

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Joshua J. Chern, Joseph H. Miller, R. Shane Tubbs, Thomas R. Whisenhunt, James M. Johnston, John C. Wellons III, Curtis J. Rozzelle, Jeffrey P. Blount and W. Jerry Oakes

Object

A large volume of patients presented to a Level I pediatric trauma center during and after a recent tornado disaster. Injuries of the central and peripheral nervous systems and the medical responses of a pediatric neurosurgical team are reviewed.

Methods

The clinical courses of patients who suffered cranial, spinal, and peripheral nerve injuries due to the tornado storm are reported. The clinical actions taken by the neurosurgical team during and after the event are reviewed and the lessons learned are discussed.

Results

The tornado storm system moved through the Tuscaloosa and Birmingham metropolitan areas on the early evening hours of April 27, 2011. Twenty-four patients received care from the neurosurgical team. A total of 11 cranial (including placement of an external ventricular drain), 2 spine, and 2 peripheral procedures were performed for the victims. Nine procedures were performed within the first 12 hours of the event, and an additional 6 surgeries were performed in the following 24 hours. Injuries of the peripheral nervous system often presented in a delayed fashion. Several key components were identified that enabled adequate neurosurgical care for a large influx of acute patients.

Conclusions

Massive casualties due to tornados are rare. A well-organized physician team working with the hospital administration may decrease the mortality and morbidity of such events.

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R. Shane Tubbs, Joshua Beckman, Robert P. Naftel, Joshua J. Chern, John C. Wellons III, Curtis J. Rozzelle, Jeffrey P. Blount and W. Jerry Oakes

Object

The diagnosis and treatment of Chiari malformation Type I (CM-I) has evolved over the last few decades. The authors present their surgical experience of over 2 decades of treating children with this form of hindbrain herniation.

Methods

The authors conducted a retrospective review of their institutional experience with the surgical treatment of the pediatric CM-I from 1989 to 2010.

Results

The 2 most common presentations were headache/neck pain (40%) and scoliosis (18%). Common associated diagnoses included neurofibromatosis Type 1 (5%) and idiopathic growth hormone deficiency (4.2%). Spine anomalies included scoliosis (18%), retroversion of the odontoid process (24%), Klippel-Feil anomaly (3%), and atlantooccipital fusion (8%). Approximately 3% of patients had a known family member with CM-I. Hydrocephalus was present in 48 patients (9.6%). Syringomyelia was present in 285 patients (57%), and at operation, 12% of patients with syringomyelia were found to have an arachnoid veil occluding the fourth ventricular outlet. Fifteen patients (3%) have undergone reoperation for continued symptoms or persistent large syringomyelia. The most likely symptoms and signs to resolve following surgery were Valsalva-induced headache and syringomyelia. The average hospital stay and “return to school” time were 3 and 12 days, respectively. The follow-up for this group ranged from 2 months to 15 years (mean 5 years). Complications occurred in 2.4% of cases; there was no mortality. No patient required acute return to the operating room, and no blood transfusions were performed.

Conclusions

The authors believe this to be the largest reported series of surgically treated pediatric CM-I patients and hope that their experience will be of use to others who treat this surgical entity.

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Leslie Acakpo-Satchivi, R. Shane Tubbs, Audie L. Woolley, Cuong J. Bui, Peter Liechty, Yuki Hammers, John Wellons III, Jeffrey P. Blount and W. Jerry Oakes

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R. Shane Tubbs, Marios Loukas, Mohammadali M. Shoja, Robert J. Spinner, Erik H. Middlebrooks, William R. Stetler Jr., Leslie Acakpo-Satchivi, John C. Wellons III, Jeffrey P. Blount and W. Jerry Oakes

Object

The suprascapular nerve may become entrapped as it travels deep to the suprascapular ligament, necessitating decompression. The present study was performed to verify the feasibility of a minimally invasive, endoscopically assisted technique for decompressing the suprascapular nerve in the supraspinous fossa.

Methods

The authors performed dissection and decompression of the suprascapular ligament using an endoscopically assisted technique via a 3-cm skin incision in 10 adult cadavers (20 sides). Measurements were also made of the depth from the skin to the suprascapular ligament.

Results

A mean depth of 4 cm was necessary to reach the suprascapular ligament from the skin surface. With the authors' approach, no obvious injury occurred to the suprascapular or other vicinal neurovascular structures (such as the spinal accessory nerve and suprascapular vessels).

Conclusions

The results of this cadaveric study demonstrate that access to the suprascapular nerve can be obtained endoscopically via a small suprascapular incision. This approach obviates a large incision, entry into the glenohumeral joint, and reduces the risk of spinal accessory nerve injury in the posterior cervical triangle, or atrophy of the trapezius or supraspinatus muscles from a standard larger dissection. To the authors' knowledge an endoscopically assisted approach to decompressing the suprascapular nerve as it courses deep to the suprascapular ligament has not been reported previously.

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Cuong J. Bui, R. Shane Tubbs, Gigi Pate, Traci Morgan, Douglas C. Barnhart, Leslie Acakpo-Satchivi, John C. Wellons III, W. Jerry Oakes and Jeffrey P. Blount

Object

There is conflicting information in the literature regarding the increased risk of ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt infection after abdominal surgical procedures such as gastrostomy tube (GT) placement and Nissen fundoplication (NF) in the young patient. To further elucidate this potential association, the authors reviewed their institutional experience with such cases.

Methods

The authors retrospectively reviewed the records of all patients with shunted hydrocephalus who also underwent NF procedures and/or GT placements over a 9-year period.

Results

During this 9-year period, 3065 cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) shunts were placed and 1630 NF procedures/GT placements were performed. Ninety-six patients were identified who received both a CSF shunt and NF procedures/GT placements. Seventy-nine patients had a functioning VP shunt (without recent [< 6 months] CSF infection or shunt revision) at the time of their abdominal procedure (NF procedure or GT placement). Of this latter cohort, there were 38 males and 41 females with a mean age of 6.4 months; 12.7% of these patients developed a shunt infection and 60% of these infections were due to Staphylococcus species.

Conclusions

Based on this study, an NF procedure/GT placement in a child with a VP shunt appears to carry approximately the same risk of shunt infection as a shunt placement operation. Moreover, the microbiology observed in these patients with infection did not differ significantly from the usual microorganisms responsible for VP shunt infections in infants/neonates. Finally, but not conclusively, an open NF procedure/GT placement may carry a higher infection risk than a laparoscopic-assisted NF procedure/GT placement.

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Jeffrey P. Blount, R. Shane Tubbs, John C. Wellons III, Leslie Acakpo-Satchivi, David Bauer and W. Jerry Oakes

✓ In certain highly selected circumstances, division of a distally nonfunctional or dysfunctional cord can be a means of definitive untethering that spares and protects more rostral neurological function and results in definitive untethering. The authors reviewed their institutional experience with such cases and evaluated the limited literature. Based on their experience, treatment can be effective in carefully selected patients who undergo spinal cord transection, and the rate of repetitive tethered spinal cord can be decreased. Although uncommon, spinal cord transection appears to be an effective therapy in carefully selected patents with symptoms of repetitive cord tethering.

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R. Shane Tubbs, Marios Loukas, Robert G. Louis Jr., Mohammadali M. Shoja, Leslie Acakpo-Satchivi, Jeffrey P. Blount, E. George Salter, W. Jerry Oakes and John C. Wellons III

Object

The superior and inferior sagittal sinuses have been well studied. Interestingly, other venous structures within the falx cerebri have received scant attention in the medical literature. The present study was performed to elucidate the presence and anatomy of these midline structures.

Methods

The authors examined 27 adult latex- or ink-injected cadaveric specimens to observe the morphological features of the sinuses within the falx cerebri (excluding the inferior and superior sagittal sinuses).

Results

All specimens were found to have an extensive network of small tributaries within the falx cerebri that were primarily concentrated in its posterior one third. In this posterior segment, these structures were usually more pronounced in the inferior two thirds. The portion of the falx cerebri not containing significant falcine venous sinus was termed a “safe area.” These vascular channels ranged in size from 0.5 mm to 1.1 cm (mean 0.6 mm); 100% of these vessels communicated with the inferior sagittal sinus. Classification of the structures was then performed based on communication of the falcine venous sinus with the superior sagittal sinus. Type I falcine sinuses had no communication with the superior sagittal sinus, Type II falcine sinuses had limited communication with the superior sagittal sinus, and Type III falcine sinuses had significant communication with the superior sagittal sinus. Seventeen (63%) of 27 specimens communicated with the superior sagittal sinus (Types II and III). Further subdivision revealed 10 Type I, seven Type II, and 10 Type III falcine venous plexuses.

Conclusions

There are other venous sinuses in the falx cerebri in addition to the superior and inferior sagittal sinuses. Neurosurgical procedures that necessitate incising or puncturing the falx cerebri can be done more safely via a described safe area. Given that the majority of specimens in the authors' study were found to have a plexiform venous morphology within the falx cerebri, they propose that these channels be referred to as the falcine venous plexus and not sinus. The falcine venous plexus should be taken into consideration by the neurosurgeon.

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Cuong J. Bui, R. Shane Tubbs, Chevis N. Shannon, Leslie Acakpo-Satchivi, John C. Wellons III, Jeffrey P. Blount and W. Jerry Oakes

Object

There is scant literature regarding the long-term outcome in patients with cranial vault encephaloceles, and what literature there is may underestimate long-term deficits. The goal of this study was to address this lack of information.

Methods

The authors performed a retrospective chart review of cranial vault encephaloceles performed at our institution between 1989 and 2003. Fifty-two total patients were identified and 44 of these cases were reviewed. Additionally, 34 of the 44 patients were contacted and given an outcome survey (Hydrocephalus Outcome Questionnarie [HOQ]) to evaluate physical, emotional, cognitive, and overall health outcomes.

Results

The mean age for patients in this cohort was 9.6 years (range 4–17 years) and the mean follow-up time was 9.2 years. There was an equal sex distribution and there were no deaths. Hydrocephalus was found in 60% of occipital and 14% of frontal encephaloceles, and epilepsy was confirmed in 17% of occipital and 7% of frontal lesions. Outcome assessments performed using the HOQ showed that 50% of the patients with occipital encephaloceles had overall HOQ health scores of 0.5 or less and 55% had HOQ cognitive scores of 0.3 or less, compared with 0% of patients in both categories who had frontal encephaloceles. It was also found that the presence of hydrocephalus and epilepsy independently and significantly lowered the overall health scores.

Conclusions

Occipital encephaloceles carry a worse prognosis than frontal encephaloceles, with higher rates of hydrocephalus and seizure. Based on this study, the presence of hydrocephalus and epilepsy are significant additive adverse prognostic factors. Approximately half of the patients with occipital encephaloceles will be severely debilitated and will probably be unable to live and function independently in society. These data may be useful to clinicians in counseling patients and predicting long-term outcome following repair of cranial vault encephaloceles.