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  • Author or Editor: Brandon G. Rocque x
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Matthew C. Davis, Brandon G. Rocque, Ash Singhal, Thomas Ridder, Jogi V. Pattisapu and James M. Johnston Jr.

OBJECTIVE

Neurosurgical services are increasingly recognized as essential components of surgical care worldwide. The degree of interest among neurosurgeons regarding international work, and the barriers to involvement in global neurosurgical outreach, are largely unexplored. The authors distributed a survey to members of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons/Congress of Neurological Surgeons (AANS/CNS) Joint Section on Pediatric Neurosurgery to assess the state of global outreach among its members and to identify barriers to involvement.

METHODS

An internet-based questionnaire was developed by the International Education Subcommittee of the AANS/CNS Joint Section on Pediatric Neurosurgery and distributed to pediatric neurosurgeons via the AANS/CNS Joint Section email contact list. Participants were surveyed on their involvement in global neurosurgical outreach, geographic location, nature of the participation, and barriers to further involvement.

RESULTS

A 35.3% response rate was obtained, with 116 respondents completing the survey. Sixty-one percent have performed or taught neurosurgery in a developing country, and 49% travel at least annually. Africa was the most common region (54%), followed by South America (30%), through 29 separate organizing entities. Hydrocephalus was the most commonly treated condition (88%), followed by spinal dysraphism (74%), and tumor (68%). Most respondents obtained follow-up through communications from local surgeons (77%). Seventy-one percent believed the international experience improved their practice, and 74% were very or extremely interested in working elsewhere. Interference with current practice (61%), cost (44%), and difficulty identifying international partners (43%) were the most commonly cited barriers to participation.

CONCLUSIONS

Any coordinated effort to expand global neurosurgical capacity begins with appreciation for the current state of outreach efforts. Increasing participation in global outreach will require addressing both real and perceived barriers to involvement. Creation and curation of a centralized online database of ongoing projects to facilitate coordination and involvement may be beneficial.

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Matthew C. Davis, Betsy D. Hopson, Jeffrey P. Blount, Rachel Carroll, Tracey S. Wilson, Danielle K. Powell, Amie B. Jackson McLain and Brandon G. Rocque

OBJECTIVE

Predictors of permanent disability among individuals with spinal dysraphism are not well established. In this study, the authors examined potential risk factors for self-reported permanent disability among adults with spinal dysraphism.

METHODS

A total of 188 consecutive individuals undergoing follow-up in an adult spinal dysraphism clinic completed a standardized National Spina Bifida Patient Registry survey. Chi-square tests and logistic regression were used to assess bivariate relationships, while multivariate logistic regression was used to identify factors independently associated with self-identification as “permanently disabled.”

RESULTS

A total of 106 (56.4%) adults with spina bifida identified themselves as permanently disabled. On multivariate analysis, relative to completion of primary and/or secondary school, completion of technical school (OR 0.01, 95% CI 0–0.40; p = 0.021), some college (OR 0.22, 95% CI 0.08–0.53; p < 0.001), college degree (OR 0.06, 95% CI 0.003–0.66; p = 0.019), and holding an advanced degree (OR 0.12, 95% CI 0.03–0.45; p = 0.002) were negatively associated with permanent disability. Relative to open myelomeningocele, diagnosis of closed spinal dysraphism was also negatively associated with permanent disability (OR 0.20, 95% CI 0.04–0.90; p = 0.036). Additionally, relative to no stool incontinence, stool incontinence occurring at least daily (OR 6.41, 95% CI 1.56–32.90; p = 0.009) or more than weekly (OR 3.43, 95% CI 1.10–11.89; p = 0.033) were both positively associated with permanent disability. There was a suggestion of a dose-response relationship with respect to the influence of educational achievement and frequency of stool incontinence on the likelihood of permanent disability.

CONCLUSIONS

The authors’ findings suggest that level of education and degree of stool incontinence are the strongest predictors of permanent disability among adults with spinal dysraphism. These findings will be the basis of efforts to improve community engagement and to improve readiness for transition to adult care in a multidisciplinary pediatric spina bifida clinic.

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Dagoberto Estevez-Ordonez, Matthew C. Davis, Betsy Hopson, MSHA, Anastasia Arynchyna, Brandon G. Rocque, Graham Fieggen, Gail Rosseau, Godfrey Oakley, MSPM and Jeffrey P. Blount

Neural tube defects (NTDs) are one of the greatest causes of childhood mortality and disability-adjusted life years worldwide. Global prevalence at birth is approximately 18.6 per 10,000 live births, with more than 300,000 infants with NTDs born every year. Substantial strides have been made in understanding the genetics, pathophysiology, and surgical treatment of NTDs, yet the natural history remains one of high morbidity and profound impairment of quality of life. Direct and indirect costs of care are enormous, which ensures profound inequities and disparities in the burden of disease in countries of low and moderate resources. All indices of disease burden are higher for NTDs in developing countries. The great tragedy is that the majority of NTDs can be prevented with folate fortification of commercially produced food. Unequivocal evidence of the effectiveness of folate to reduce the incidence of NTDs has existed for more than 25 years. Yet, the most comprehensive surveys of effectiveness of implementation strategies show that more than 100 countries fail to fortify, and consequently only 13% of folate-preventable spina bifida is actually prevented. Neurosurgeons harbor a disproportionate, central, and fundamental role in the management of NTDs and enjoy high standing in society. No organized group in medicine can speak as authoritatively or convincingly. As a result, neurosurgeons and organized neurosurgery harbor disproportionate potential to advocate for more comprehensive folate fortification, and thereby prevent the most common and severe birth defect to impact the human nervous system. Assertive, proactive, informed advocacy for folate fortification should be a central and integral part of the neurosurgical approach to NTDs. Only by making the prevention of dysraphism a priority can we best address the inequities often observed worldwide.

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Brandon G. Rocque, Matthew C. Davis, Samuel G. McClugage III, Dang Anh Tuan, Donald T. King III, Nguyen Thi Huong, Nguyen Thi Bich Van, Pongkiat Kankirawatana, Cao Vu Hung, Le Nam Thang, James M. Johnston and Nguyen Duc Lien

OBJECTIVE

The purpose of this report was to describe an international collaboration model to facilitate the surgical treatment of children with epilepsy in Vietnam.

METHODS

This model uses three complementary methods to achieve a meaningful expansion in epilepsy surgery capacity: US-based providers visiting Hanoi, Vietnam; Vietnamese providers visiting the US; and ongoing telecollaboration, including case review and real-time mentorship using internet-based communication platforms.

RESULTS

Introductions took place during a US neurosurgeon’s visit to Vietnam in 2014. Given the Vietnamese surgeon’s expertise in intraventricular tumor surgery, the focus of the initial visit was corpus callosotomy. After two operations performed jointly, the Vietnamese surgeon went on to perform 10 more callosotomy procedures in the ensuing 6 months with excellent results. The collaborative work grew and matured in 2016–2017, with 40 pediatric epilepsy surgeries performed from 2015 through 2017. Because pediatric epilepsy care requires far more than neurosurgery, teams traveling to Vietnam included a pediatric neurologist and an electroencephalography (EEG) technologist. Also, in 2016–2017, a neurosurgeon, two neurologists, and an EEG nurse from Vietnam completed 2- to 3-month fellowships at Children’s of Alabama (COA) in the US. These experiences improved EEG capabilities and facilitated the development of intraoperative electrocorticography (ECoG), making nonlesional epilepsy treatment more feasible. The final component has been ongoing, i.e., regular communication. The Vietnamese team regularly sends case summaries for discussion to the COA epilepsy conference. Three patients in Vietnam have undergone resection guided by ECoG without the US team present, although there was communication via internet-based telecollaboration tools between Vietnamese and US EEG technologists. To date, two of these three patients remain seizure free. The Vietnamese team has presented the results of their epilepsy experience at two international functional and epilepsy surgery scientific meetings.

CONCLUSIONS

Ongoing international collaboration has improved the surgical care of epilepsy in Vietnam. Experience suggests that the combination of in-country and US-based training, augmented by long-distance telecollaboration, is an effective paradigm for increasing the capacity for highly subspecialized, multidisciplinary neurosurgical care.

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Michael C. Dewan, Jaims Lim, Stephen R. Gannon, David Heaner, Matthew C. Davis, Brandy Vaughn, Joshua J. Chern, Brandon G. Rocque, Paul Klimo Jr., John C. Wellons III and Robert P. Naftel

OBJECTIVE

It has been suggested that the treatment of infant hydrocephalus results in different craniometric changes depending upon whether ventriculoperitoneal shunt (VPS) placement or endoscopic third ventriculostomy with choroid plexus cauterization (ETV/CPC) is performed. Without an objective and quantitative description of expected changes to the infant cranium and ventricles following ETV/CPC, asserting successful treatment of hydrocephalus is difficult. By comparing infants successfully treated via ETV/CPC or VPS surgery, the authors of this study aimed to define the expected postoperative cranial and ventricular alterations at the time of clinical follow-up.

METHODS

Patients who underwent successful treatment of hydrocephalus at 4 institutions with either VPS placement or ETV/CPC were matched in a 3:1 ratio on the basis of age and etiology. Commonly used cranial parameters (including head circumference [HC], HC z-score, fontanelle status, and frontooccipital horn ratio [FOHR]) were compared pre- and postoperatively between treatment cohorts. First, baseline preoperative values were compared to ensure cohort equivalence. Next, postoperative metrics, including the relative change in metrics, were compared between treatment groups using multivariate linear regression.

RESULTS

Across 4 institutions, 18 ETV/CPC-treated and 54 VPS-treated infants with hydrocephalus were matched and compared at 6 months postoperatively. The most common etiologies of hydrocephalus were myelomeningocele (61%), followed by congenital communicating hydrocephalus (17%), aqueductal stenosis (11%), and intraventricular hemorrhage (6%). The mean age at the time of CSF diversion was similar between ETV/CPC- and VPS-treated patients (3.4 vs 2.9 months; p = 0.69), as were all preoperative cranial hydrocephalus metrics (p > 0.05). Postoperatively, the ventricle size FOHR decreased significantly more following VPS surgery (−0.15) than following ETV/CPC (−0.02) (p < 0.001), yielding a lower postoperative FOHR in the VPS arm (0.42 vs 0.51; p = 0.01). The HC percentile was greater in the ETV/CPC cohort than in the VPS-treated patients (76th vs 54th percentile; p = 0.046). A significant difference in the postoperative z-score was not observed. With both treatment modalities, a bulging fontanelle reliably normalized at last follow-up.

CONCLUSIONS

Clinical and radiographic parameters following successful treatment of hydrocephalus in infants differed between ETV/CPC and VPS treatment. At 6 months post-ETV/CPC, ventricle size remained unchanged, whereas VPS-treated ventricles decreased to a near-normal FOHR. The HC growth control between the procedures was similar, although the final HC percentile may be lower after VPS. The fontanelle remained a reliable indicator of success for both treatments. This study establishes expected cranial and ventricular parameters following ETV/CPC, which may be used to guide preoperative counseling and postoperative decision making.