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Joyce Koueik, Carolina Sandoval-Garcia, John R. W. Kestle, Brandon G. Rocque, David M. Frim, Gerald A. Grant, Robert F. Keating, Carrie R. Muh, W. Jerry Oakes, Ian F. Pollack, Nathan R. Selden, R. Shane Tubbs, Gerald F. Tuite, Benjamin Warf, Victoria Rajamanickam, Aimee Teo Broman, Victor Haughton, Susan Rebsamen, Timothy M. George and Bermans J. Iskandar

OBJECTIVE

Despite significant advances in diagnostic and surgical techniques, the surgical management of Chiari malformation type I (CM-I) with associated syringomyelia remains controversial, and the type of surgery performed is surgeon dependent. This study’s goal was to determine the feasibility of a prospective, multicenter, cohort study for CM-I/syringomyelia patients and to provide pilot data that compare posterior fossa decompression and duraplasty (PFDD) with and without tonsillar reduction.

METHODS

Participating centers prospectively enrolled children suffering from both CM-I and syringomyelia who were scheduled to undergo surgical decompression. Clinical data were entered into a database preoperatively and at 1–2 weeks, 3–6 months, and 1 year postoperatively. MR images were evaluated by 3 independent, blinded teams of neurosurgeons and neuroradiologists. The primary endpoint was improvement or resolution of the syrinx.

RESULTS

Eight clinical sites were chosen based on the results of a published questionnaire intended to remove geographic and surgeon bias. Data from 68 patients were analyzed after exclusions, and complete clinical and imaging records were obtained for 55 and 58 individuals, respectively. There was strong agreement among the 3 radiology teams, and there was no difference in patient demographics among sites, surgeons, or surgery types. Tonsillar reduction was not associated with > 50% syrinx improvement (RR = 1.22, p = 0.39) or any syrinx improvement (RR = 1.00, p = 0.99). There were no surgical complications.

CONCLUSIONS

This study demonstrated the feasibility of a prospective, multicenter surgical trial in CM-I/syringomyelia and provides pilot data indicating no discernible difference in 1-year outcomes between PFDD with and without tonsillar reduction, with power calculations for larger future studies. In addition, the study revealed important technical factors to consider when setting up future trials. The long-term sequelae of tonsillar reduction have not been addressed and would be an important consideration in future investigations.

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Brandon G. Rocque, Bonita S. Agee, Eric M. Thompson, Mark Piedra, Lissa C. Baird, Nathan R. Selden, Stephanie Greene, Christopher P. Deibert, Todd C. Hankinson, Sean M. Lew, Bermans J. Iskandar, Taryn M. Bragg, David Frim, Gerald Grant, Nalin Gupta, Kurtis I. Auguste, Dimitrios C. Nikas, Michael Vassilyadi, Carrie R. Muh, Nicholas M. Wetjen and Sandi K. Lam

OBJECTIVE

In children, the repair of skull defects arising from decompressive craniectomy presents a unique set of challenges. Single-center studies have identified different risk factors for the common complications of cranioplasty resorption and infection. The goal of the present study was to determine the risk factors for bone resorption and infection after pediatric cranioplasty.

METHODS

The authors conducted a multicenter retrospective case study that included all patients who underwent cranioplasty to correct a skull defect arising from a decompressive craniectomy at 13 centers between 2000 and 2011 and were less than 19 years old at the time of cranioplasty. Prior systematic review of the literature along with expert opinion guided the selection of variables to be collected. These included: indication for craniectomy; history of abusive head trauma; method of bone storage; method of bone fixation; use of drains; size of bone graft; presence of other implants, including ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt; presence of fluid collections; age at craniectomy; and time between craniectomy and cranioplasty.

RESULTS

A total of 359 patients met the inclusion criteria. The patients’ mean age was 8.4 years, and 51.5% were female. Thirty-eight cases (10.5%) were complicated by infection. In multivariate analysis, presence of a cranial implant (primarily VP shunt) (OR 2.41, 95% CI 1.17–4.98), presence of gastrostomy (OR 2.44, 95% CI 1.03–5.79), and ventilator dependence (OR 8.45, 95% CI 1.10–65.08) were significant risk factors for cranioplasty infection. No other variable was associated with infection.

Of the 240 patients who underwent a cranioplasty with bone graft, 21.7% showed bone resorption significant enough to warrant repeat surgical intervention. The most important predictor of cranioplasty bone resorption was age at the time of cranioplasty. For every month of increased age the risk of bone flap resorption decreased by 1% (OR 0.99, 95% CI 0.98–0.99, p < 0.001). Other risk factors for resorption in multivariate models were the use of external ventricular drains and lumbar shunts.

CONCLUSIONS

This is the largest study of pediatric cranioplasty outcomes performed to date. Analysis included variables found to be significant in previous retrospective reports. Presence of a cranial implant such as VP shunt is the most significant risk factor for cranioplasty infection, whereas younger age at cranioplasty is the dominant risk factor for bone resorption.