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Amy Lee, Andrea E. Van Pelt, Alex A. Kane, Thomas K. Pilgram, Daniel P. Govier, Albert S. Woo and Matthew D. Smyth

Object

Deformational plagiocephaly (DP) is the leading cause of head shape abnormalities in infants. Treatment options include conservative measures and cranial molding. Pediatric neurosurgeons and craniofacial plastic surgeons have yet to agree on an ideal therapy, and no definable standards exist for initiating treatment with helmets. Furthermore, there may be differences between specialties in their perceptions of DP severity and need for helmet therapy.

Methods

Requests to participate in a web-based questionnaire were sent to diplomates of the American Board of Pediatric Neurological Surgery and US and Canadian members of the Pediatric Joint Section of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and the Congress of Neurological Surgeons and the American Cleft Palate–Craniofacial Association. Questions focused on educational background; practice setting; volume of DP patients; preferences for evaluation, treatment, follow-up; and incentives or deterrents to treat with helmet therapy. Six examples of varying degrees of DP were presented to delineate treatment preferences.

Results

Requests were sent to 302 neurosurgeons and 470 plastic surgeons, and responses were received from 71 neurosurgeons (24%) and 64 plastic surgeons (14%). The following responses represented the greatest variations between specialties: 1) 8% of neurosurgeons and 26% of plastic surgeons strongly agreed with the statement that helmet therapy is more beneficial than conservative therapy (p < 0.01); and 2) 25% of neurosurgeons and 58% of plastic surgeons would treat moderate to severe DP with helmets (p < 0.01).

Conclusions

Survey responses suggest that neurosurgeons are less likely to prescribe helmet therapy for DP than plastic surgeons. Parents of children with DP are faced with a costly treatment decision that may be influenced more strongly by referral and physician bias than medical evidence.

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John R. W. Kestle, Amy Lee, Richard C. E. Anderson, Barbu Gociman, Kamlesh B. Patel, Matthew D. Smyth, Craig Birgfeld, Ian F. Pollack, Jesse A. Goldstein, Mandeep Tamber, Thomas Imahiyerobo, Faizi A. Siddiqi and for the Synostosis Research Group

OBJECTIVE

The authors created a collaborative network, the Synostosis Research Group (SynRG), to facilitate multicenter clinical research on craniosynostosis. To identify common and differing practice patterns within the network, they assessed the SynRG surgeons’ management preferences for sagittal synostosis. These results will be incorporated into planning cooperative studies.

METHODS

The SynRG consists of 12 surgeons at 5 clinical sites. An email survey was distributed to SynRG surgeons in late 2016, and responses were collected through early 2017. Responses were collated and analyzed descriptively.

RESULTS

All of the surgeons—7 plastic/craniofacial surgeons and 5 neurosurgeons—completed the survey. They varied in both experience (1–24 years) and sagittal synostosis case volume in the preceding year (5–45 cases). Three sites routinely perform preoperative CT scans. The preferred surgical technique for children younger than 3 months is strip craniectomy (10/12 surgeons), whereas children older than 6 months are all treated with open cranial vault surgery. Pre-incision cefazolin, preoperative complete blood count panels, and an arterial line were used by most surgeons, but tranexamic acid was used routinely at 3 sites and never at the other 2 sites. Among surgeons performing endoscopic strip craniectomy surgery (SCS), most create a 5-cm-wide craniectomy, whereas 2 surgeons create a 2-cm strip. Four surgeons routinely send endoscopic SCS patients to the intensive care unit after surgery. Two of the 5 sites routinely obtain a CT scan within the 1st year after surgery.

CONCLUSIONS

The SynRG surgeons vary substantially in the use of imaging, the choice of surgical procedure and technique, and follow-up. A collaborative network will provide the opportunity to study different practice patterns, reduce variation, and contribute multicenter data on the management of children with craniosynostosis.