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  • Author or Editor: Brandon G. Rocque x
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Brandon G. Rocque, Samir Lapsiwala and Bermans J. Iskandar


The clinical diagnosis of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) shunt malfunction can be challenging. In this prospective study, the authors evaluated a common method of interrogating shunts: the shunt tap; specifically, its ability to predict proximal malfunction.


The authors performed standardized shunt taps in a consecutive series of cases involving children with suspected or proven shunt malfunction, assessing flow and, when possible, opening pressure. Data were collected prospectively, and results analyzed in light of surgical findings.


A shunt tap was performed prior to 68 operative explorations in 51 patients. Of the 68 taps, 28 yielded poor or no CSF flow on aspiration. After 26 of these 28 procedures, proximal catheter obstruction was identified. After 28 taps with good CSF return and normal or low opening pressure, 18 shunts were found to have a proximal obstruction, 8 had no obstruction, and 2 had a distal obstruction. Another 12 taps with good CSF flow had high opening pressure; subsequent surgery showed distal obstruction in 11 of the shunts, and proximal obstruction in 1. The positive predictive value of poor flow was 93%, while good flow on shunt tap predicted adequate proximal catheter function in only 55% of cases.


Poor flow of CSF on shunt tap is highly predictive of obstruction of the proximal catheter. Because not all patients with good flow on shunt tap underwent surgical shunt exploration, the specificity of this test cannot be determined. Nonetheless, a shunt tap that reveals good flow with a normal opening pressure can be misleading, and management of such cases should be based on clinical judgment.

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Brandon G. Rocque, Timothy M. George, John Kestle and Bermans J. Iskandar


The purpose of this study was to report the results of a survey of the American Society of Pediatric Neurosurgeons (ASPN) on treatment of Chiari malformation Type I (CM-I) with syringomyelia.


A questionnaire was circulated during the 2006 meeting of the ASPN, in which surgeons were surveyed on their management of patients with CM-I and syringomyelia. The survey consisted of questions about 4 clinical scenarios, common causes of surgical failures, and complications.


There were 72 respondents, representing more than 90% of attendees at the 2006 ASPN meeting and approximately half of the society's members. The majority of respondents (85%) reported that they perform posterior fossa decompression as first-line treatment for CM-I with syringomyelia. Seven percent perform bony decompression alone, 36% open the dura, and 27% shrink the tonsils. Very few respondents indicated that they offer syrinx drainage as first-line therapy (< 3%). Although all respondents reported that they treat symptomatic CM-I/syringomyelia patients surgically, 15% of respondents indicated that they do not operate on asymptomatic patients. Finally, respondents stated that their most common complications are pseudomeningocele and chemical meningitis.


This survey, given to a representative group of experienced North American pediatric neurosurgeons, confirms that posterior fossa decompression is still the preferred treatment modality in children with CM-I and syringomyelia, regardless of symptoms. Although most surgeons open the dura, preferred techniques for decompression vary. In contrast to the results of past surveys, conservative follow-up is now only used by a minority of respondents and only in the asymptomatic patient, and primary syrinx drainage seems to have lost popularity. A multicenter trial of surgical outcomes has been designed based on the information from this survey.

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Joyce Koueik, Brandon G. Rocque, Jordan Henry, Taryn Bragg, Jennifer Paul and Bermans J. Iskandar

Continuous irrigation is an important adjunct for successful intraventricular endoscopy, particularly for complex cases. It allows better visualization by washing out blood and debris, improves navigation by expanding the ventricles, and assists with tissue dissection. A method of irrigation delivery using a centrifugal pump designed originally for cardiac surgery is presented.

The BioMedicus centrifugal pump has the desirable ability to deliver a continuous laminar flow of fluid that excludes air from the system. A series of modifications to the pump tubing was performed to adapt it to neuroendoscopy. Equipment testing determined flow and pressure responses at various settings and simulated clinical conditions. The pump was then studied clinically in 11 endoscopy cases and eventually used in 310 surgical cases.

Modifications of the pump tubing allowed for integration with different endoscopy systems. Constant flow rates were achieved with and without surgical instruments through the working ports. Optimal flow rates ranged between 30 and 100 ml/min depending on endoscope size. Intraoperative use was well tolerated with no permanent morbidity and showed consistent flow rates, minimal air accumulation, and seamless irrigation bag replacement during prolonged surgery. Although the pump is equipped with an internal safety mechanism to protect against pressure buildup when outflow obstructions occur, equipment testing revealed that flow cessation is not instantaneous enough to protect against sudden intracranial pressure elevation.

A commonly available cardiac pump system was modified to provide continuous irrigation for intraventricular endoscopy. The system alleviates the problems of inconsistent flow rates, air in the irrigation lines, and delays in changing irrigation bags, thereby optimizing patient safety and surgical efficiency. Safe use of the pump requires good ventricular outflow and, clearly, sound surgical judgment.

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W. Jerry Oakes

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Brandon G. Rocque, Bonita S. Agee, Eric M. Thompson, Mark Piedra, Lissa C. Baird, Nathan R. Selden, Stephanie Greene, Christopher P. Deibert, Todd C. Hankinson, Sean M. Lew, Bermans J. Iskandar, Taryn M. Bragg, David Frim, Gerald Grant, Nalin Gupta, Kurtis I. Auguste, Dimitrios C. Nikas, Michael Vassilyadi, Carrie R. Muh, Nicholas M. Wetjen and Sandi K. Lam


In children, the repair of skull defects arising from decompressive craniectomy presents a unique set of challenges. Single-center studies have identified different risk factors for the common complications of cranioplasty resorption and infection. The goal of the present study was to determine the risk factors for bone resorption and infection after pediatric cranioplasty.


The authors conducted a multicenter retrospective case study that included all patients who underwent cranioplasty to correct a skull defect arising from a decompressive craniectomy at 13 centers between 2000 and 2011 and were less than 19 years old at the time of cranioplasty. Prior systematic review of the literature along with expert opinion guided the selection of variables to be collected. These included: indication for craniectomy; history of abusive head trauma; method of bone storage; method of bone fixation; use of drains; size of bone graft; presence of other implants, including ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt; presence of fluid collections; age at craniectomy; and time between craniectomy and cranioplasty.


A total of 359 patients met the inclusion criteria. The patients’ mean age was 8.4 years, and 51.5% were female. Thirty-eight cases (10.5%) were complicated by infection. In multivariate analysis, presence of a cranial implant (primarily VP shunt) (OR 2.41, 95% CI 1.17–4.98), presence of gastrostomy (OR 2.44, 95% CI 1.03–5.79), and ventilator dependence (OR 8.45, 95% CI 1.10–65.08) were significant risk factors for cranioplasty infection. No other variable was associated with infection.

Of the 240 patients who underwent a cranioplasty with bone graft, 21.7% showed bone resorption significant enough to warrant repeat surgical intervention. The most important predictor of cranioplasty bone resorption was age at the time of cranioplasty. For every month of increased age the risk of bone flap resorption decreased by 1% (OR 0.99, 95% CI 0.98–0.99, p < 0.001). Other risk factors for resorption in multivariate models were the use of external ventricular drains and lumbar shunts.


This is the largest study of pediatric cranioplasty outcomes performed to date. Analysis included variables found to be significant in previous retrospective reports. Presence of a cranial implant such as VP shunt is the most significant risk factor for cranioplasty infection, whereas younger age at cranioplasty is the dominant risk factor for bone resorption.