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  • Author or Editor: Matthew D. Smyth x
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R. Shane Tubbs, Daniel Webb, Matthew D. Smyth and W. Jerry Oakes

Object. The authors hypothesized that children with preoperative Chiari I malformation and an absent gag reflex may harbor pharyngeal musculature atrophy identifiable on magnetic resonance (MR) imaging.

Methods. Thirty patients with preoperative Chiari I malformation and a functioning gag reflex, five patients with preoperative Chiari I malformation and complete absence of gag reflex, and 50 control individuals underwent radiological measurement of the posterior pharyngeal wall thickness.

The thickness of the posterior pharyngeal wall in age-matched controls was significantly thinner (p < 0.0001) than that in patients with Chiari I malformation and no functioning gag reflex. Additionally, in patients with hindbrain herniation and absent gag reflex, the posterior pharyngeal wall thicknesses were comparable to or thinner than those in age-matched controls. A general decrease in the thickness of the posterior pharyngeal wall was found in control individuals who were older compared with patients with Chiari I malformation and a preserved gag reflex in whom the prevertebral soft tissues were found to increase in thickness with age.

Analysis of these data showed that in children with a nonfunctioning gag reflex the prevertebral soft tissue, composed primarily of the superior constrictor muscle, is statistically thinner compared with that in age-matched controls and age-matched children with Chiari I malformation and a functioning gag reflex. The authors theorize that the discrepancy between this measurement in controls and patients with hindbrain herniation is due to the thickening of the craniocervical ligaments that is known to occur in this clinical entity.

Conclusions. The finding that prevertebral soft tissue thickens with age in patients with Chiari I malformation and functioning gag reflex alone may aid in the interpretation of soft-tissue injury following cervical spine injuries in this group.

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R. Shane Tubbs, Matthew D. Smyth, John C. Wellons III and W. Jerry Oakes

Object. The literature contains scant data regarding variations in anatomy at the level of the foramen of Magendie in patients with Chiari I malformation and syringomyelia.

Methods. Based on their operative experience and hospital data, the authors detailed the incidence of arachnoid veils found in juxtaposition to the foramen of Magendie in patients with hindbrain herniation. Additionally, radiological studies were retrospectively reviewed in cases in which such an anomaly was noted intraoperatively.

Of 140 patients with Chiari I malformation who underwent decompressive surgery, an associated syrinx was demonstrated in 80 (57%). The foramen of Magendie was obstructed by an arachnoid veil in 10 (12.5%) of these patients; once the lesion was punctured, the cerebrospinal fluid drained freely from this median aperture. On retrospective review of imaging studies, none of these anomalous structures was evident. In all patients with an arachnoid veil and syringomyelia resolution of syringomyelia was revealed on postoperative imaging.

Conclusions. In the absence of a clear pathophysiology of syrinx production, the authors would recommend that patients with syringomyelia and Chiari I malformation undergo duraplasty so that, if present, these veils can be fenestrated.

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Matthew D. Smyth, Jason T. Banks, R. Shane Tubbs, John C. Wellons III and W. Jerry Oakes

Object. The authors performed a study to evaluate the efficacy of a regimen of scheduled minor analgesic medications in managing postoperative pain in children undergoing intracranial procedures.

Methods. Postoperative pain scores were analyzed in two groups of children who underwent decompressive surgery for Chiari malformation: Group A underwent a scheduled regimen of minor oral analgesic medications (standing doses of acetaminophen [10 mg/kg] and ibuprofen [10 mg/kg] alternating every 2 hours) and Group B received analgesic medication when requested.

Fifty children underwent a standard occipital craniectomy (25 in each group). The pain scores were significantly lower in Group A during most of the postoperative period. Length of stay (LOS) was shorter (2.2 compared with 2.8 days), and narcotic and antiemetic requirements were also lower in Group A patients than in Group B patients. Patients with spinal cord syringes exhibited a similar postoperative status to those without, and similar improvements in pain scores with scheduled minor analgesic medications were also evident.

Conclusions. A regimen of minor analgesic therapy, given in alternating doses every 2 hours immediately after craniotomy and throughout hospitalization, significantly reduced postoperative pain scores and LOS in children in whom suboccipital craniotomy was performed. Narcotic and antiemetic requirements were also decreased in association with this regimen. Application of this postoperative analgesia protocol may benefit children and adults in whom various similar neurosurgical procedures are required.

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R. Shane Tubbs, Matthew D. Smyth, John C. Wellons III, Jeffrey P. Blount, Paul A. Grabb and W. Jerry Oakes

Object. To the best of the authors' knowledge, no quantitative analysis of the atlantoaxial interlaminar distance in flexion (ILD) in children exists in the medical literature. In this study they sought to determine the age-matched relationship between the posterior elements of the atlas and axis in children in cervical spine flexion, to be used as an adjunct to the atlantodental interval in common clinical use.

Methods. Lateral radiographs of the cervical spine in full flexion were analyzed in 74 children. The atlantoaxial ILD was defined as the distance between a midpoint of the anterior cortices of the atlantal and axial posterior arches.

The mean ILD for the entire group was 19 mm (range 8–30 mm). No significant difference was seen between male and female patients (p = 0.084). When stratified by age, the mean ILD was 12.3 ± 3 mm (15 cases) in children age 3 years or younger and 20.5 ± 4.7 mm (59 cases) in children age older than 3 years. Further stratification of the groups yielded a mean ILD of 10.4 ± 1.4 [eight cases]) in children age 1 to 2 years, and 14.4 ± 4.7 mm (seven cases) in children age 3 years. In children older than 3 years of age the mean ILD was consistently approximately 20 ± 5 mm regardless of age.

Conclusions. Rapid, safe, and accurate diagnosis of the cervical spine is essential in critical care. Knowledge of the distance between the posterior elements of the atlas and axis in flexion should enhance the clinicians' (those who clear cervical spines) ability to diagnose accurately atlantoaxial instability on lateral radiographs obtained in flexion.

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Joshua J. Chern, R. Shane Tubbs, Akash J. Patel, Amber S. Gordon, S. Kathleen Bandt, Matthew D. Smyth, Andrew Jea and W. Jerry Oakes

Object

Tethered cord release for a tight filum terminale is a common pediatric operation associated with low morbidity and mortality rates. While almost all would agree that keeping patients lying flat after the operation will prevent a CSF leak, the optimal period of doing so has not been determined. In this study, the authors examined whether a longer length of stay in the hospital for the sole purpose of maintaining patients flat correlates with a decreased rate of CSF leakage.

Methods

Intraoperative and postoperative data were retrospectively collected in 222 cases of simple tethered cord release at 3 large children's hospitals. Risk factors for postoperative CSF leakage were identified.

Results

Thirty-eight patients were maintained lying flat for 24 hours, 86 for 48 hours, and 98 for 72 hours at the individual surgeon's discretion. A CSF leak occurred in 13 patients (5.9%) and pseudomeningocele developed in 9 patients (4.1%). In the univariate analysis, operating time, use of the microscope, use of dural sealant, and duration of remaining flat after surgery failed to correlate with the occurrence of complications.

Conclusions

A longer hospital stay for maintaining patients flat after a simple tethered cord release appears not to prevent CSF leakage. However, a larger patient cohort will be needed to detect small differences in complication rates.