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Brandon G. Rocque, Alexandra Cutillo, Kathrin Zimmerman, Anastasia Arynchyna, Susan Davies, Wendy Landier and Avi Madan-Swain

OBJECTIVE

Hospitalization for a newly diagnosed pediatric brain tumor is an extremely stressful time for a family, but this period has not been the focus of rigorous study. The purpose of this study was to quantify distress and psychosocial risk in this population to improve psychosocial care delivery.

METHODS

The authors administered the National Comprehensive Cancer Network Distress Thermometer (DT) and the Psychosocial Assessment Tool 2.0 (PAT) to primary caregivers of all children admitted to Children’s of Alabama with a new brain tumor between April 2016 and August 2017. The DT is a single-item measure of distress (scale range 0–10). The PAT (range 0–7) stratifies families by risk level: a score less than 1.0 indicates universal risk level (risk typically experienced during hospitalization); a score of 1.0–2.0 indicates targeted risk (specific psychosocial difficulties that impact medical treatment); and a score higher than 2.0 indicates clinically significant risk. Demographic and clinical information was abstracted from each child’s medical record. A correlation matrix using nonparametric statistics was created between abstracted data and the DT and PAT scores.

RESULTS

Forty primary caregivers were enrolled (of 49 eligible), with the patient age ranging from newborn to 17 years (mean 7.7 years). Twenty-five (63%) of the children were male, and 24 (60%) were white, non-Hispanic. Mean and median DT scores were 7.2 (SD 2.6) and 7, respectively. However, 12 (30%) rated their distress 10/10, and 85% rated distress 5 or greater. PAT scores ranged from 0.0 to 2.36 with mean and median scores of 0.89 (SD 0.50) and 0.86, respectively. PAT results for 16 (40%) families were in the targeted or clinical range, indicating psychosocial factors that have the potential to interfere with medical treatment. No clinical or demographic variable correlated significantly with the DT or PAT score.

CONCLUSIONS

Families of children with newly diagnosed brain tumors experience high levels of distress and psychosocial risk. This work will serve as the foundation for efforts to standardize psychosocial evaluation for newly diagnosed pediatric neurosurgical patients, and to create protocols that organize existing hospital-based psychosocial support services. These efforts have the potential to improve patient and family satisfaction as well as treatment outcomes.

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Edward O. Komolafe, Ibironke O. Ogunbameru, Chiazor U. Onyia, Oluwafemi F. Owagbemi and Fred S. Ige-Orhionkpaibima

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Dagoberto Estevez-Ordonez, Matthew C. Davis, Betsy Hopson, MSHA, Anastasia Arynchyna, Brandon G. Rocque, Graham Fieggen, Gail Rosseau, Godfrey Oakley, MSPM and Jeffrey P. Blount

Neural tube defects (NTDs) are one of the greatest causes of childhood mortality and disability-adjusted life years worldwide. Global prevalence at birth is approximately 18.6 per 10,000 live births, with more than 300,000 infants with NTDs born every year. Substantial strides have been made in understanding the genetics, pathophysiology, and surgical treatment of NTDs, yet the natural history remains one of high morbidity and profound impairment of quality of life. Direct and indirect costs of care are enormous, which ensures profound inequities and disparities in the burden of disease in countries of low and moderate resources. All indices of disease burden are higher for NTDs in developing countries. The great tragedy is that the majority of NTDs can be prevented with folate fortification of commercially produced food. Unequivocal evidence of the effectiveness of folate to reduce the incidence of NTDs has existed for more than 25 years. Yet, the most comprehensive surveys of effectiveness of implementation strategies show that more than 100 countries fail to fortify, and consequently only 13% of folate-preventable spina bifida is actually prevented. Neurosurgeons harbor a disproportionate, central, and fundamental role in the management of NTDs and enjoy high standing in society. No organized group in medicine can speak as authoritatively or convincingly. As a result, neurosurgeons and organized neurosurgery harbor disproportionate potential to advocate for more comprehensive folate fortification, and thereby prevent the most common and severe birth defect to impact the human nervous system. Assertive, proactive, informed advocacy for folate fortification should be a central and integral part of the neurosurgical approach to NTDs. Only by making the prevention of dysraphism a priority can we best address the inequities often observed worldwide.

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W. Jerry Oakes

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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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Paul M. Foreman, Christoph J. Griessenauer, Kimberly P. Kicielinski, Philip G. R. Schmalz, Brandon G. Rocque, Matthew R. Fusco, Joseph C. Sullivan III, John P. Deveikis and Mark R. Harrigan

OBJECTIVE

Blunt traumatic cerebrovascular injury (TCVI) represents structural injury to a vessel due to high-energy trauma. The Biffl Scale is a widely accepted grading scheme for these injuries that was developed using digital subtraction angiography. In recent years, screening CT angiography (CTA) has been used to identify patients with TCVI. The reliability of this scale, with injuries assessed using CTA, has not yet been determined.

METHODS

Seven independent raters, including 2 neurosurgeons, 2 neuroradiologists, 2 neurosurgical residents, and 1 neurosurgical vascular fellow, independently reviewed each presenting CTA of the neck performed in 40 patients with confirmed TCVI and assigned a Biffl grade. Ten images were repeated to assess intrarater reliability, for a total of 50 CTAs. Fleiss' multirater kappa (κ) and interclass correlation were calculated as a measure of interrater reliability. Weighted Cohen's κ was used to assess intrarater reliability.

RESULTS

Fleiss' multirater κ was 0.65 (95% CI 0.61–0.69), indicating substantial agreement as to the Biffl grade assignment among the 7 raters. Interclass correlation was 0.82, demonstrating excellent agreement among the raters. Intrarater reliability was perfect (weighted Cohen's κ = 1) in 2 raters, and near perfect (weighted Cohen's κ > 0.8) in the remaining 5 raters.

CONCLUSIONS

Grading of TCVI with CTA using the Biffl Scale is reliable.

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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.

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Ross L. Dawkins, Joseph H. Miller, Omar I. Ramadan, Michael C. Lysek, Elizabeth N. Kuhn, Brandon G. Rocque, Michael J. Conklin, R. Shane Tubbs, Beverly C. Walters, Bonita S. Agee and Curtis J. Rozzelle

OBJECTIVE

There are many classification systems for injuries of the thoracolumbar spine. The recent Thoracolumbar Injury Classification and Severity Score (TLICS) has been shown to be a reliable tool for adult patients. The aim of this study was to assess the reliability of the TLICS system in pediatric patients. The validity of the TLICS system is assessed in a companion paper.

METHODS

The medical records of pediatric patients with acute, traumatic thoracolumbar fractures at a single Level 1 trauma center were retrospectively reviewed. A TLICS was calculated for each patient using CT and MRI, along with the neurological examination recorded in the patient’s medical record. TLICSs were compared with the type of treatment received. Five raters scored all patients separately to assess interrater reliability.

RESULTS

TLICS calculations were completed for 81 patients. The mean patient age was 10.9 years. Girls represented 51.8% of the study population, and 80% of the study patients were white. The most common mechanisms of injury were motor vehicle accidents (60.5%), falls (17.3%), and all-terrain vehicle accidents (8.6%). The mean TLICS was 3.7 ± 2.8. Surgery was the treatment of choice for 33.3% of patients. The agreement between the TLICS-suggested treatment and the actual treatment received was statistically significant (p < 0.0001). The interrater reliability of the TLICS system ranged from moderate to very good, with a Fleiss’ generalized kappa (κ) value of 0.69 for the TLICS treatment suggestion among all patients; however, interrater reliability decreased when MRI was used to contribute to the TLICS. The κ value decreased from 0.73 to 0.57 for patients with CT only vs patients with CT/MRI or MRI only, respectively (p < 0.0001). Furthermore, the agreement between suggested treatment and actual treatment was worse when MRI was used as part of injury assessment.

CONCLUSIONS

The TLICS system demonstrates good interrater reliability among physicians assessing thoracolumbar fracture treatment in pediatric patients. Physicians should be cautious when using MRI to aid in the surgical decision-making process.

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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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Michael C. Dewan, Jaims Lim, Stephen R. Gannon, David Heaner, Matthew C. Davis, Brandy Vaughn, Joshua J. Chern, Brandon G. Rocque, Paul Klimo Jr., John C. Wellons III and Robert P. Naftel

OBJECTIVE

It has been suggested that the treatment of infant hydrocephalus results in different craniometric changes depending upon whether ventriculoperitoneal shunt (VPS) placement or endoscopic third ventriculostomy with choroid plexus cauterization (ETV/CPC) is performed. Without an objective and quantitative description of expected changes to the infant cranium and ventricles following ETV/CPC, asserting successful treatment of hydrocephalus is difficult. By comparing infants successfully treated via ETV/CPC or VPS surgery, the authors of this study aimed to define the expected postoperative cranial and ventricular alterations at the time of clinical follow-up.

METHODS

Patients who underwent successful treatment of hydrocephalus at 4 institutions with either VPS placement or ETV/CPC were matched in a 3:1 ratio on the basis of age and etiology. Commonly used cranial parameters (including head circumference [HC], HC z-score, fontanelle status, and frontooccipital horn ratio [FOHR]) were compared pre- and postoperatively between treatment cohorts. First, baseline preoperative values were compared to ensure cohort equivalence. Next, postoperative metrics, including the relative change in metrics, were compared between treatment groups using multivariate linear regression.

RESULTS

Across 4 institutions, 18 ETV/CPC-treated and 54 VPS-treated infants with hydrocephalus were matched and compared at 6 months postoperatively. The most common etiologies of hydrocephalus were myelomeningocele (61%), followed by congenital communicating hydrocephalus (17%), aqueductal stenosis (11%), and intraventricular hemorrhage (6%). The mean age at the time of CSF diversion was similar between ETV/CPC- and VPS-treated patients (3.4 vs 2.9 months; p = 0.69), as were all preoperative cranial hydrocephalus metrics (p > 0.05). Postoperatively, the ventricle size FOHR decreased significantly more following VPS surgery (−0.15) than following ETV/CPC (−0.02) (p < 0.001), yielding a lower postoperative FOHR in the VPS arm (0.42 vs 0.51; p = 0.01). The HC percentile was greater in the ETV/CPC cohort than in the VPS-treated patients (76th vs 54th percentile; p = 0.046). A significant difference in the postoperative z-score was not observed. With both treatment modalities, a bulging fontanelle reliably normalized at last follow-up.

CONCLUSIONS

Clinical and radiographic parameters following successful treatment of hydrocephalus in infants differed between ETV/CPC and VPS treatment. At 6 months post-ETV/CPC, ventricle size remained unchanged, whereas VPS-treated ventricles decreased to a near-normal FOHR. The HC growth control between the procedures was similar, although the final HC percentile may be lower after VPS. The fontanelle remained a reliable indicator of success for both treatments. This study establishes expected cranial and ventricular parameters following ETV/CPC, which may be used to guide preoperative counseling and postoperative decision making.