Optimal management of pediatric Chiari malformation type I (CM-I) is much debated, chiefly due to the lack of validated tools for outcome assessment, with very few tools incorporating patient-centered measures of health-related quality of life (HRQOL). Although posterior fossa decompression (PFD) benefits a subset of patients, prediction of its impact across patients is challenging. The primary aim of this study was to investigate the role of patient-centered HRQOL measures in the assessment and prediction of outcomes after PFD.
The authors collected HRQOL data from a cohort of 20 pediatric CM-I patients before and after PFD. The surveys included assessments of selected Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) health domains and were used to generate the PROMIS preference (PROPr) score, which is a measure of HRQOL. PROMIS is a reliable standardized measure of HRQOL domains such as pain, fatigue, depression, and physical function, which are all relevant to CM-I. The authors then compared the PROPr scores with Chicago Chiari Outcome Scale (CCOS) scores derived from time-matched clinical documentation. Finally, the authors used the PROPr scores as an outcome measure to predict postsurgical HRQOL improvement at 1 year on the basis of patient demographic characteristics, comorbidities, and radiological and physical findings. The Wilcoxon signed-rank test, Mann-Whitney U-test, and Kendall’s correlation were used for statistical analysis.
Aggregate analysis revealed improvement of pain severity after PFD (p = 0.007) in anatomical patterns characteristic of CM-I. Most PROMIS domain scores trended toward improvement after surgery, with anxiety and pain interference reaching statistical significance (p < 0.002 and p < 0.03, respectively). PROPr scores also significantly improved after PFD (p < 0.008). Of the baseline patient characteristics, preexisting scoliosis was the most accurate negative predictor of HRQOL improvement after PFD (median −0.095 vs 0.106, p < 0.001). A correlation with modest magnitude (Kendall’s tau range 0.19–0.47) was detected between the patient-centered measures and CCOS score.
The authors observed moderate improvement of HRQOL, when measured using a modified panel of PROMIS question banks, in this pilot cohort of pediatric CM-I patients after PFD. Further investigations are necessary to validate this tool for children with CM-I and to determine whether these scores correlate with clinical and radiographic findings.