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  • Author or Editor: John R. W. Kestle x
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Paul Steinbok, D. Douglas Cochrane and John R. W. Kestle

✓ The purpose of this study was to determine the significance of “asymptomatic bacteriological shunt contamination” (ABSC), defined as a positive bacteriological culture found on a ventricular shunt component in the absence of bacteria in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) culture and/or clinical evidence of infection.

Of 174 ventriculoperitoneal shunt revisions, 19 cases of ABSC were identified and reviewed retrospectively. In all but one case, no antibiotic medications were instituted because of the positive bacteriological culture. The most common infecting organisms were coagulase-negative staphylococci (seven) and propionibacteria (eight). A comparison of the 19 study cases with the authors' overall shunt experience, as documented in the British Columbia's Children's Hospital shunt database for the time period of the study, lead the authors to suggest that ABSC was not of significance in causing the shunt failure at which contamination was identified and, more importantly, did not increase the risk of future shunt malfunction.

The results of this study indicate that in the absence of clinical evidence of shunt infection or a positive bacteriological culture from CSF, bacteria in a shunt component removed at revision in a child almost always represents a contaminant that may be ignored. Therefore, the authors advise that routine culture of shunt components removed at revision of a shunt is not indicated.

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Paul Steinbok, Stephen Hentschel, D. Douglas Cochrane and John R. W. Kestle

✓ The rationale for obtaining surveillance computerized tomography (CT) scans or magnetic resonance (MR) images in pediatric patients with brain tumors is that early detection of recurrence may result in timely treatment and better outcome. The purpose of this study was to investigate the value of surveillance cranial images in a variety of common pediatric brain tumors managed at a tertiary care pediatric hospital.

A retrospective chart review was performed of children with astrocytoma of the cerebral hemisphere, cerebellum, optic chiasm/hypothalamus, or thalamus; cerebellar or supratentorial high-grade glioma; supratentorial ganglioglioma; posterior fossa or supratentorial primitive neuroectodermal tumor (PNET); and posterior fossa ependymoma. Data were analyzed to determine the frequency with which recurrences were identified on a surveillance image and how the type of image at which recurrence was identified related to outcome.

In 159 children, 17 of 44 recurrences were diagnosed by surveillance imaging. The percentage of recurrences identified by surveillance imaging was 64% for ependymoma, 50% for supratentorial PNET, 43% for optic/hypothalamic astrocytoma, and less than 30% for other tumors. The rate of diagnosis of recurrence per surveillance image varied from 0% to 11.8% for different tumor types. Only for ependymomas did there appear to be an improved outcome when recurrence was identified prior to symptoms.

Our results indicate that, using the protocols outlined in this study, surveillance imaging was not valuable in identifying recurrence of cerebellar astrocytoma or supratentorial ganglioglioma during the study period, but was probably worth-while in identifying recurrence of posterior fossa ependymoma and optic/hypothalamic astrocytoma and, possibly, medulloblastoma. Surveillance protocols could be made more effective by individualizing them for each type of tumor, based on current data on the patterns of recurrence.

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Paul Steinbok, Bengt Gustavsson, John R. W. Kestle, Ann Reiner and D. Doug Cochrane

✓ At British Columbia's Children's Hospital, the criteria used in selective functional posterior rhizotomy (SFPR) evolved in three distinct phases. In Phase 1 the electrophysiological criteria for abnormality included a low threshold to a single stimulation, a sustained response to 50-Hz stimulation, and spread outside the segmental level being stimulated. In Phase 2 the electrophysiological criteria were unchanged, but fewer L3–4 nerve roots were cut. In Phase 3, fewer L3–4 nerve roots were cut, as in Phase 2, but based on the results of posterior nerve root stimulation in nonspastic controls, the only electrophysiological criterion used was contralateral and suprasegmental spread. The present study examined the relationship between the criteria used in each phase and patient outcome.

The records of 77 consecutive children who underwent SFPR and had a minium follow-up period of 1 year were reviewed, comprising 25, 19, and 33 patients in Phases 1, 2, and 3, respectively. Outcome parameters included quantitative assessments of lower-limb spasticity and range of motion, and qualitative assessments of lower-limb function.

In Phase 3, 52% of the nerve roots were cut, compared to 66% in Phases 1 and 2. In all three phases there was a significant decrease in lower-limb spasticity and an increase in range of movement, with the smallest decrease in spasticity in Phase 3. Over 90% of children in each phase improved with respect to lower-limb function, and excluding independent walkers and quadriplegics confined to a wheelchair, improvement in the level of ambulation occurred in 87.5%, 71.4%, and 73.7% of patients, in Phases 1, 2, and 3, respectively.