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Mallory R. Peterson, Venkateswararao Cherukuri, Joseph N. Paulson, Paddy Ssentongo, Abhaya V. Kulkarni, Benjamin C. Warf, Vishal Monga, and Steven J. Schiff

OBJECTIVE

The study of brain size and growth has a long and contentious history, yet normal brain volume development has yet to be fully described. In particular, the normal brain growth and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) accumulation relationship is critical to characterize because it is impacted in numerous conditions of early childhood in which brain growth and fluid accumulation are affected, such as infection, hemorrhage, hydrocephalus, and a broad range of congenital disorders. The authors of this study aim to describe normal brain volume growth, particularly in the setting of CSF accumulation.

METHODS

The authors analyzed 1067 magnetic resonance imaging scans from 505 healthy pediatric subjects from birth to age 18 years to quantify component and regional brain volumes. The volume trajectories were compared between the sexes and hemispheres using smoothing spline ANOVA. Population growth curves were developed using generalized additive models for location, scale, and shape.

RESULTS

Brain volume peaked at 10–12 years of age. Males exhibited larger age-adjusted total brain volumes than females, and body size normalization procedures did not eliminate this difference. The ratio of brain to CSF volume, however, revealed a universal age-dependent relationship independent of sex or body size.

CONCLUSIONS

These findings enable the application of normative growth curves in managing a broad range of childhood diseases in which cognitive development, brain growth, and fluid accumulation are interrelated.

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Steven J. Schiff, Abhaya V. Kulkarni, Edith Mbabazi-Kabachelor, John Mugamba, Peter Ssenyonga, Ruth Donnelly, Jody Levenbach, Vishal Monga, Mallory Peterson, Venkateswararao Cherukuri, and Benjamin C. Warf

OBJECTIVE

Hydrocephalus in infants, particularly that with a postinfectious etiology, is a major public health burden in Sub-Saharan Africa. The authors of this study aimed to determine whether surgical treatment of infant postinfectious hydrocephalus in Uganda results in sustained, long-term brain growth and improved cognitive outcome.

METHODS

The authors performed a trial at a single center in Mbale, Uganda, involving infants (age < 180 days old) with postinfectious hydrocephalus randomized to endoscopic third ventriculostomy plus choroid plexus cauterization (ETV+CPC; n = 51) or ventriculoperitoneal shunt (VPS; n = 49). After 2 years, they assessed developmental outcome with the Bayley Scales of Infant Development, Third Edition (BSID-III), and brain volume (raw and normalized for age and sex) with CT scans.

RESULTS

Eighty-nine infants were assessed for 2-year outcome. There were no significant differences between the two surgical treatment arms in terms of BSID-III cognitive score (p = 0.17) or brain volume (p = 0.36), so they were analyzed together. Raw brain volumes increased between baseline and 2 years (p < 0.001), but this increase occurred almost exclusively in the 1st year (p < 0.001). The fraction of patients with a normal brain volume increased from 15.2% at baseline to 50.0% at 1 year but then declined to 17.8% at 2 years. Substantial normalized brain volume loss was seen in 21.3% patients between baseline and year 2 and in 76.7% between years 1 and 2. The extent of brain growth in the 1st year was not associated with the extent of brain volume changes in the 2nd year. There were significant positive correlations between 2-year brain volume and all BSID-III scores and BSID-III changes from baseline.

CONCLUSIONS

In Sub-Saharan Africa, even after successful surgical treatment of infant postinfectious hydrocephalus, early posttreatment brain growth stagnates in the 2nd year. While the reasons for this finding are unclear, it further emphasizes the importance of primary infection prevention and mitigation strategies along with optimizing the child’s environment to maximize brain growth potential.