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Brandon A. Sherrod, James M. Johnston and Brandon G. Rocque

OBJECTIVE

Hospital readmission rate is increasingly used as a quality outcome measure after surgery. The purpose of this study was to establish, using a national database, the baseline readmission rates and risk factors for patient readmission after pediatric neurosurgical procedures.

METHODS

The American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program–Pediatric database was queried for pediatric patients treated by a neurosurgeon between 2012 and 2013. Procedures were categorized by current procedural terminology (CPT) code. Patient demographics, comorbidities, preoperative laboratory values, operative variables, and postoperative complications were analyzed via univariate and multivariate techniques to find associations with unplanned readmissions within 30 days of the primary procedure.

RESULTS

A total of 9799 cases met the inclusion criteria, 1098 (11.2%) of which had an unplanned readmission within 30 days. Readmission occurred 14.0 ± 7.7 days postoperatively (mean ± standard deviation). The 4 procedures with the highest unplanned readmission rates were CSF shunt revision (17.3%; CPT codes 62225 and 62230), repair of myelomeningocele > 5 cm in diameter (15.4%), CSF shunt creation (14.1%), and craniectomy for infratentorial tumor excision (13.9%). The lowest unplanned readmission rates were for spine (6.5%), craniotomy for craniosynostosis (2.1%), and skin lesion (1.0%) procedures. On multivariate regression analysis, the odds of readmission were greatest in patients experiencing postoperative surgical site infection (SSI; deep, organ/space, superficial SSI, and wound disruption: OR > 12 and p < 0.001 for each). Postoperative pneumonia (OR 4.294, p < 0.001), urinary tract infection (OR 4.262, p < 0.001), and sepsis (OR 2.616, p = 0.006) also independently increased the readmission risk. Independent patient risk factors for unplanned readmission included Native American race (OR 2.363, p = 0.019), steroid use > 10 days (OR 1.411, p = 0.010), oxygen supplementation (OR 1.645, p = 0.010), nutritional support (OR 1.403, p = 0.009), seizure disorder (OR 1.250, p = 0.021), and longer operative time (per hour increase, OR 1.059, p = 0.029).

CONCLUSIONS

This study may aid in identifying patients at risk for unplanned readmission following pediatric neurosurgery, potentially helping to focus efforts at lowering readmission rates, minimizing patient risk, and lowering costs for health care systems.

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Jonathan Pindrik, Brandon G. Rocque, Anastasia A. Arynchyna, James M. Johnston and Curtis J. Rozzelle

OBJECTIVE

Endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) with choroid plexus (CP) cauterization (CPC) represents a viable treatment option for congenital hydrocephalus in infants younger than 2 years. Imaging studies complement clinical data in the evaluation of treatment success or failure. The objectives of this study were to investigate novel radiographic markers—cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) turbulence and CP visualization—and their ability to reflect or predict clinical outcomes following ETV/CPC.

METHODS

Hydrocephalic patients younger than 2 years who were initially treated by ETV/CPC at the senior authors' institution between March 2013 and February 2014 were retrospectively reviewed. Clinical data, as well as the visualization of CSF turbulence and CP on pre- and postoperative fast-sequence MRI, were recorded. Radiographic images were reviewed by a blinded observer based on specific criteria for the visualization of CSF turbulence and CP. Data were collected and analyzed using descriptive statistics, including Fisher's exact test for comparisons. The research team obtained appropriate institutional review board approval for this study, without the need for informed consent.

RESULTS

Among the 32 patients (53% male and 47% female) studied, 18 of 32 (56%) responded favorably to initial or repeat ETV/CPC, with 13 of 32 (41%) patients requiring 1 surgery. Of the 19 (59%) patients whose initial ETV/CPC failed, 8 of 19 (42%) patients underwent repeat ETV/CPC, with 5 of 8 (63%) patients responding favorably. Radiographic CSF turbulence appeared more frequently following ETV/CPC failure than after ETV/CPC success (55% vs 18%, respectively; p = 0.02). The sensitivity and specificity of CSF turbulence as a radiographic marker for ETV/CPC failure were 80% and 58%, respectively. The radiographic depiction of CP disappearance following ETV/CPC from pre- to postoperative imaging occurred in 20 of 30 patients (67%). Among the patients who responded unsuccessfully to ETV/CPC and ultimately required secondary shunt insertion, 71% (10 of 14 patients) demonstrated CP persistence on postoperative imaging. In contrast, 6% (1 of 18) of patients who were treated successfully by ETV/CPC demonstrated the presence of CP on follow-up imaging. This difference reached statistical significance (p = 0.0001). The visualization of CP persistence despite ETV/CPC reflected treatment failure with 91% sensitivity and 81% specificity. The sensitivity of either or both radiographic markers to suggest ETV/CPC failure was 77%, while their specificity (both markers absent, thereby indicating ETV/CPC success) was 81%.

CONCLUSIONS

Radiographic markers correlate with clinical outcomes following the treatment of infantile hydrocephalus with ETV/CPC. Specifically, CSF turbulence may indicate ongoing pathological CSF flow dynamics, while CP absence following ETV/CPC may predict shunt independence. Future studies that incorporate prospective review and formal intra- and interobserver reliability estimates may help corroborate the utility of these radiographic markers.

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Brandon A. Sherrod, Anastasia A. Arynchyna, James M. Johnston, Curtis J. Rozzelle, Jeffrey P. Blount, W. Jerry Oakes and Brandon G. Rocque

OBJECTIVE

Surgical site infection (SSI) following CSF shunt operations has been well studied, yet risk factors for nonshunt pediatric neurosurgery are less well understood. The purpose of this study was to determine SSI rates and risk factors following nonshunt pediatric neurosurgery using a nationwide patient cohort and an institutional data set specifically for better understanding SSI.

METHODS

The authors reviewed the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program–Pediatric (ACS NSQIP-P) database for the years 2012–2014, including all neurosurgical procedures performed on pediatric patients except CSF shunts and hematoma evacuations. SSI included deep (intracranial abscesses, meningitis, osteomyelitis, and ventriculitis) and superficial wound infections. The authors performed univariate analyses of SSI association with procedure, demographic, comorbidity, operative, and hospital variables, with subsequent multivariate logistic regression analysis to determine independent risk factors for SSI within 30 days of the index procedure. A similar analysis was performed using a detailed institutional infection database from Children's of Alabama (COA).

RESULTS

A total of 9296 nonshunt procedures were identified in NSQIP-P with an overall 30-day SSI rate of 2.7%. The 30-day SSI rate in the COA institutional database was similar (3.3% of 1103 procedures, p = 0.325). Postoperative time to SSI in NSQIP-P and COA was 14.6 ± 6.8 days and 14.8 ± 7.3 days, respectively (mean ± SD). Myelomeningocele (4.3% in NSQIP-P, 6.3% in COA), spine (3.5%, 4.9%), and epilepsy (3.4%, 3.1%) procedure categories had the highest SSI rates by procedure category in both NSQIP-P and COA. Independent SSI risk factors in NSQIP-P included postoperative pneumonia (OR 4.761, 95% CI 1.269–17.857, p = 0.021), immune disease/immunosuppressant use (OR 3.671, 95% CI 1.371–9.827, p = 0.010), cerebral palsy (OR 2.835, 95% CI 1.463–5.494, p = 0.002), emergency operation (OR 1.843, 95% CI 1.011–3.360, p = 0.046), spine procedures (OR 1.673, 95% CI 1.036–2.702, p = 0.035), acquired CNS abnormality (OR 1.620, 95% CI 1.085–2.420, p = 0.018), and female sex (OR 1.475, 95% CI 1.062–2.049, p = 0.021). The only COA factor independently associated with SSI in the COA database included clean-contaminated wound classification (OR 3.887, 95% CI 1.354–11.153, p = 0.012), with public insurance (OR 1.966, 95% CI 0.957–4.041, p = 0.066) and spine procedures (OR 1.982, 95% CI 0.955–4.114, p = 0.066) approaching significance. Both NSQIP-P and COA multivariate model C-statistics were > 0.7.

CONCLUSIONS

The NSQIP-P SSI rates, but not risk factors, were similar to data from a single center.

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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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Esther B. Dupepe, Betsy Hopson, James M. Johnston, Curtis J. Rozzelle, W. Jerry Oakes, Jeffrey P. Blount and Brandon G. Rocque

OBJECTIVE

It is generally accepted that cerebrospinal fluid shunts fail most frequently in the first years of life. The purpose of this study was to describe the risk of shunt failure for a given patient age in a well-defined cohort with shunted hydrocephalus due to myelomeningocele (MMC).

METHODS

The authors analyzed data from their institutional spina bifida research database including all patients with MMC and shunted hydrocephalus. For the entire population, the number of shunt revisions in each year of life was determined. Then the number of patients at risk for shunt revision during each year of life was calculated, thus enabling them to calculate the rate of shunt revision per patient in each year of life. In this way, the timing of all shunt revision operations for the entire clinic population and the likelihood of having a shunt revision during each year of life were calculated.

RESULTS

A total of 655 patients were enrolled in the spina bifida research database, 519 of whom had a diagnosis of MMC and whose mean age was 17.48 ± 11.7 years (median 16 years, range 0–63 years). Four hundred seventeen patients had had a CSF shunt for the treatment of hydrocephalus and thus are included in this analysis. There were 94 shunt revisions in the 1st year of life, which represents a rate of 0.23 revisions per patient in that year. The rate of shunt revision per patient-year initially decreased as age increased, except for an increase in revision frequency in the early teen years. Shunt revisions continued to occur as late as 43 years of age.

CONCLUSIONS

These data substantiate the idea that shunt revision surgeries in patients with MMC are most common in the 1st year of life and decrease thereafter, except for an increase in the early teen years. A persistent risk of shunt failure was observed well into adult life. These findings underscore the importance of routine follow-up of all MMC patients with shunted hydrocephalus and will aid in counseling patients and families.

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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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Joseph H. Miller, Clarence Gill, Elizabeth N. Kuhn, Brandon G. Rocque, Joshua Y. Menendez, Jilian A. O'Neill, Bonita S. Agee, Steven T. Brown, Marshall Crowther, R. Drew Davis, Drew Ferguson and James M. Johnston

OBJECT

Pediatric sports-related concussions are a growing public health concern. The factors that determine injury severity and time to recovery following these concussions are poorly understood. Previous studies suggest that initial symptom severity and diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are predictors of prolonged recovery (> 28 days) after pediatric sports-related concussions. Further analysis of baseline patient characteristics may allow for a more accurate prediction of which patients are at risk for delayed recovery after a sports-related concussion.

METHODS

The authors performed a single-center retrospective case-control study involving patients cared for at the multidisciplinary Concussion Clinic at Children's of Alabama between August 2011 and January 2013. Patient demographic data, medical history, sport concussion assessment tool 2 (SCAT2) and symptom severity scores, injury characteristics, and patient balance assessments were analyzed for each outcome group. The control group consisted of patients whose symptoms resolved within 28 days. The case group included patients whose symptoms persisted for more than 28 days. The presence or absence of the SCAT2 assessment had a modifying effect on the risk for delayed recovery; therefore, stratum-specific analyses were conducted for patients with recorded SCAT2 scores and for patients without SCAT2 scores. Unadjusted ORs and adjusted ORs (aORs) for an association of delayed recovery outcome with specific risk factors were calculated with logistic regression analysis.

RESULTS

A total of 294 patients met the inclusion criteria of the study. The case and control groups did not statistically significantly differ in age (p = 0.7). For the patients who had received SCAT2 assessments, a previous history of concussion (aOR 3.67, 95% CI 1.51–8.95), presenting SCAT2 score < 80 (aOR 5.58, 95% CI 2.61–11.93), and female sex (aOR 3.48, 95% CI 1.43–8.49) were all associated with a higher risk for postconcussive symptoms lasting more than 28 days. For patients without SCAT2 scores, female sex and reporting a history of ADHD significantly increased the odds of prolonged recovery (aOR 4.41, 95% CI 1.93–10.07 and aOR 3.87, 95% CI 1.13–13.24, respectively). Concussions resulting from playing a nonhelmet sport were also associated with a higher risk for prolonged symptoms in patients with and without SCAT2 scores (OR 2.59, 95% CI 1.28–5.26 and OR 2.17, 95% CI 0.99–7.73, respectively). Amnesia, balance abnormalities, and a history of migraines were not associated with symptoms lasting longer than 28 days.

CONCLUSIONS

This case-control study suggests candidate risk factors for predicting prolonged recovery following sports-related concussion. Large prospective cohort studies of youth athletes examined and treated with standardized protocols will be needed to definitively establish these associations and confirm which children are at highest risk for delayed recovery.

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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.