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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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Christoph J. Griessenauer, Smeer Salam, Philipp Hendrix, Daxa M. Patel, R. Shane Tubbs, Jeffrey P. Blount and Peter A. Winkler

OBJECT

Evidence in support of hemispherectomy stems from a multitude of retrospective studies illustrating individual institutions' experience. A systematic review of this topic, however, is lacking in the literature.

METHODS

A systematic review of hemispherectomy for the treatment of refractory epilepsy available up to October 2013 was performed using the following inclusion criteria: reports of a total of 10 or more patients in the pediatric age group (≤ 20 years) undergoing hemispherectomy, seizure outcome reported after a minimum follow-up of 1 year after the initial procedure, and description of the type of hemispherectomy. Only the most recent paper from institutions that published multiple papers with overlapping study periods was included. Two reviewers independently applied the inclusion criteria and extracted all the data.

RESULTS

Twenty-nine studies with a total of 1161 patients met the inclusion criteria. Seizure outcome was available for 1102 patients, and the overall rate of seizure freedom at the last follow-up was 73.4%. Sixteen studies (55.2%) exclusively reported seizure outcomes of a single type of hemispherectomy. There was no statistically significant difference in seizure outcome and type of hemispherectomy (p = 0.737). Underlying etiology was reported for 85.4% of patients with documented seizure outcome, and the overall distribution of acquired, developmental, and progressive etiologies was 30.5%, 40.7%, and 28.8%, respectively. Acquired and progressive etiologies were associated with significantly higher seizure-free rates than developmental etiologies (p < 0.001). Twenty of the 29 studies (69%) reported complications. The overall rate of hydrocephalus requiring CSF diversion was 14%. Mortality within 30 days was 2.2% and was not statistically different between types of hemispherectomy (p = 0.787).

CONCLUSIONS

Hemispherectomy is highly effective for treating refractory epilepsy in the pediatric age group, particularly for acquired and progressive etiologies. While the type of hemispherectomy does not have any influence on seizure outcome, hemispherotomy procedures are associated with a more favorable complication profile.

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Daxa M. Patel, R. Shane Tubbs, Gigi Pate, James M. Johnston Jr. and Jeffrey P. Blount

Object

Surveillance imaging of the cerebral ventricles can be valuable in following up children with shunt-treated hydrocephalus. There also, however, has been recent increased awareness and concern over the potential risk associated with imaging-related radiation exposure in children. Magnetic resonance imaging represents an imaging alternative that does not use ionizing radiation; however, its practical utility has been limited due to the near-uniform requirement for sedation or general anesthesia in children. Magnetic resonance imaging without sedation is often futile because of the movement artifact produced by the nonsedated pediatric patient. Some studies have demonstrated the feasibility of using fast-sequence MRI (fsMRI), but the reported experiences are limited. The authors have incorporated fsMRI into their routine shunt surveillance imaging paradigms and report here a 5-year experience with this modality.

Methods

The authors initially started using fsMRI for routine surveillance in a single clinic in 2008 and have gradually increased their institutional utilization of this modality as experience has accumulated and protocols have been refined. Imaging sequences obtained for each child include an axial T2-weighted half-Fourier acquisition single-shot turbo spin-echo (HASTE), coronal T2-weighted HASTE, and sagittal T2-weighted HASTE images. The authors conducted a retrospective chart and imaging review. They rated each fsMR image according to 5 visibility parameters: 1) ventricle size, 2) ventricle configuration, 3) presence or absence of transependymal flow, 4) presence or absence of motion artifact, and 5) visualization of the ventricular catheter. Each parameter was graded as 1 (present) or 0 (absent). Thus, the maximum value assigned to each scan could be 5 and the minimum value assigned to each scan could be 0. Interrater reliability between pairs of observers was calculated using the Kendall's tau-b and intraclass coefficients.

Results

Two hundred patients underwent fsMRI. No child required sedation. The average duration of examinations was approximately 3.37 minutes, and mean age of the patients was 5.7 years. Clinically useful images were attained in all cases. Overall quality of the fsMRI studies based on the 5 different visibility parameters showed that 169 images (84.5%) included 4 or 5 parameters (score ≥ 4) and had statistically significant excellent quality. The Kendall's tau-b for the overall fsMRI ratings was 0.82 (p = 0.002) and the intraclass coefficient was 0.87 (p < 0.0001).

Conclusions

In the present cohort of 200 patients, fsMRI studies were shown to have an excellent overall quality and a statistically significant high degree of interrater reliability. Consequently, the authors propose that fsMRI is a sufficiently effective modality that eliminates the need for sedation and the use of ionizing radiation and that it should supplant CT for routine surveillance imaging in hydrocephalic patients.

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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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Robert P. Naftel, Chevis N. Shannon, Gavin T. Reed, Richard Martin, Jeffrey P. Blount, R. Shane Tubbs and John C. Wellons III

Object

The use of intraventricular endoscopy to achieve diagnosis or to resect accessible intraventricular or paraventricular tumors has been described in the literature in both adults and children. Traditionally, these techniques have not been used in patients with small ventricles due to the perceived risk of greater morbidity. The authors review their experience with the effectiveness and safety of endoscopic brain tumor management in children with small ventricles.

Methods

Between July 2002 and December 2009, 24 children with endoscopically managed brain tumors were identified. Radiological images were reviewed by a radiologist blinded to study goals and clinical setting. Patients were categorized into small-ventricle and ventriculomegaly groups based on frontal and occipital horn ratio. Surgical success was defined a priori and analyzed between groups. Trends were identified in selected subgroups, including complications related to pathological diagnosis and surgeon experience.

Results

Six children had small ventricles and 18 had ventriculomegaly. The ability to accomplish surgical goals was statistically equivalent in children with small ventricles and those with ventriculomegaly (83% vs 89%, respectively, p = 1.00). There were no complications in the small-ventricle cohort, but in the ventriculomegaly cohort there were 2 cases of postoperative hemorrhages and 1 case of infection. All hemorrhagic complications occurred in patients with high-grade tumor histopathological type and were early in the surgeon's endoscopic career.

Conclusions

Based on our experience, endoscopy should not be withheld in children with intraventricular tumors and small ventricles. Complications appear to be more dependent on tumor histopathological type and surgeon experience than ventricular size.

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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.