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  • Author or Editor: Nicholas M. Wetjen x
  • Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics x
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Nicholas M. Wetjen, John D. Heiss and Edward H. Oldfield

Object

To better understand syrinx pathophysiology, the authors performed a prospective study in which they used findings from serial clinical and magnetic resonance (MR) imaging examinations performed before and after craniocervical decompression to establish the time course of syrinx narrowing.

Methods

Serial clinical examinations and cervical MR imaging were performed in 29 consecutive patients with Chiari malformation Type I (CM-I) and syringomyelia before surgery, 1 week, and 3–6 months after surgery, and then annually. Time to narrowing of the syrinx (> 50% decrease in maximal anteroposterior diameter) following surgery was calculated using the Kaplan–Meier method.

Results

All syringes decreased in diameter and length (number of segments) on MR images at 3–6 months, 1 year, and 2 years or later. The syrinx diameter decreased from 6.9 ± 2.1 mm (mean ± standard deviation) preoperatively to < 1.5 mm at last evaluation (p < 0.0001). The median time to syrinx narrowing was 3.6 months following CM-I decompression (95% confidence interval 3.0–6.5 months). After surgery 94% of patients had improved symptoms, but symptoms resolved incompletely in 68% of patients; 52 and 59% of patients had residual dysesthesias and sensory loss, respectively. Clinical improvement occurred before partial or complete disappearance of the syrinx on MR images. Patient age, duration of symptoms, sex, preoperative syrinx diameter, and length of syrinx were unrelated to time to syrinx narrowing.

Conclusions

Most patients improve after decompression for CM-I, but many have residual symptoms. Syringes may continue to diminish for months to years after surgical decompression. A collapsed syrinx (absence of distention of the spinal cord) indicates that the pathophysiology has been reversed by treatment regardless of the completeness of elimination of the cavity on MR images.

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Patrick R. Maloney, Meghan E. Murphy, Molly J. Sullan, Kathryn M. Van Abel, Shelagh A. Cofer, John C. Cheville and Nicholas M. Wetjen

Split cord malformation (SCM) is a rare abnormality of notochord development. The majority of cases occur in the thoracolumbar region, with more than 30 cases of cervical SCM reported. The clinical impact of SCMs involving the cervical cord is therefore largely unknown. In addition, the concomitant finding of brainstem involvement is presumably incompatible with life in the majority of patients, resulting in a paucity of data regarding this clinical scenario. In this paper the authors present the first case, to their knowledge, of an incomplete cervical SCM involving the brainstem and discuss its clinical impact, diagnosis, and management.

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Regina S. Bower, Elaine C. Wirrell, Laurence J. Eckel, Lily C. Wong-Kisiel, Katherine C. Nickels and Nicholas M. Wetjen

OBJECT

Resection can sometimes offer the best chance of meaningful seizure reduction in children with medically intractable epilepsy. However, when surgery fails to achieve the desired outcome, reoperation may be an option. The authors sought to investigate outcomes following resective reoperation in pediatric patients with refractory epilepsy, excluding tumoral epilepsies. Differences in preoperative workup between surgeries are analyzed to identify factors influencing outcomes and complications in this complex group.

METHODS

Medical records were reviewed for all pediatric patients undergoing a repeat resective surgery for refractory epilepsy at the authors' institution between 2005 and 2012. Tumor and vascular etiologies were excluded. Preoperative evaluation and outcomes were analyzed for each surgery and compared.

RESULTS

Ten patients met all inclusion criteria. The median age at seizure onset was 4.5 months. Preoperative MRI revealed no lesion in 30%. Nonspecific gliosis and cortical dysplasia were the most common pathologies. The majority of preoperative workups included MRI, video-electroencephalography (EEG), and SISCOM. Intracranial EEG was performed for 60% for the first presurgical evaluation and 70% for the second evaluation. The goal of surgery was palliative in 4 patients with widespread cortical dysplasia. The final Engel outcome was Class I in 50%. The rate of favorable outcome (Engel Class I–II) was 70%. The complication rate for the initial surgery was 10%. However, the rate increased to 50% with the second surgery, and 3 of these 5 complications were pseudomeningoceles requiring shunt placement (2 of the 3 patients underwent hemispherotomy).

CONCLUSIONS

Resective reoperation for pediatric refractory epilepsy has a high rate of favorable outcome and should be considered in appropriate candidates, even as a palliative measure. Intracranial EEG monitoring should be considered on initial workup in cases where the results of imaging or EEG studies are ambiguous or conflicting. Epilepsy secondary to cortical dysplasia, especially if the dysplasia is not seen clearly on MRI, can be difficult to cure surgically. Therefore, in these cases, as large a resection as can be safely accomplished should be done, particularly when the goal is palliative. The rate of complications, particularly pseudomeningocele ultimately requiring shunt placement, is much higher following reoperation, and patients should be counseled accordingly.

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David J. Daniels, T. David Luo, Ross Puffer, Amy L. McIntosh, A. Noelle Larson, Nicholas M. Wetjen and Michelle J. Clarke

OBJECT

Motocross racing is a popular sport; however, its impact on the growing/developing pediatric spine is unknown. Using a retrospective cohort model, the authors compared the degree of advanced degenerative findings in young motocross racers with findings in age-matched controls.

METHODS

Patients who had been treated for motocross-related injury at the authors' institution between 2000 and 2007 and had been under 18 years of age at the time of injury and had undergone plain radiographic or CT examination of any spinal region were eligible for inclusion. Imaging was reviewed in a blinded fashion by 3 physicians for degenerative findings, including endplate abnormalities, loss of vertebral body height, wedging, and malalignment. Acute pathological segments were excluded. Spine radiographs from age-matched controls were similarly reviewed and the findings were compared.

RESULTS

The motocross cohort consisted of 29 riders (mean age 14.7 years; 82% male); the control cohort consisted of 45 adolescents (mean age 14.3 years; 71% male). In the cervical spine, the motocross cohort had 55 abnormalities in 203 segments (average 1.90 abnormalities/patient) compared with 20 abnormalities in 213 segments in the controls (average 0.65/patient) (p = 0.006, Student t-test). In the thoracic spine, the motocross riders had 51 abnormalities in 292 segments (average 2.04 abnormalities/patient) compared with 25 abnormalities in 299 segments in the controls (average 1.00/patient) (p = 0.045). In the lumbar spine, the motocross cohort had 11 abnormalities in 123 segments (average 0.44 abnormalities/patient) compared with 15 abnormalities in 150 segments in the controls (average 0.50/patient) (p = 0.197).

CONCLUSIONS

Increased degenerative changes in the cervical and thoracic spine were identified in adolescent motocross racers compared with age-matched controls. The long-term consequences of these changes are unknown; however, athletes and parents should be counseled accordingly about participation in motocross activities.

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Jennifer Strahle, Ndi Geh, Béla J. Selzer, Regina Bower, Mai Himedan, MaryKathryn Strahle, Nicholas M. Wetjen, Karin M. Muraszko, Hugh J. L. Garton and Cormac O. Maher

OBJECT

There is currently no consensus on the safety of sports participation for patients with Chiari I malformation (CM-I). The authors' goal was to define the risk of sports participation for children with the imaging finding of CM-I.

METHODS

A prospective survey was administered to 503 CM-I patients at 2 sites over a 46-month period. Data were gathered on imaging characteristics, treatment, sports participation, and any sport-related injuries. Additionally, 81 patients completed at least 1 subsequent survey following their initial entry into the registry and were included in a prospective group, with a mean prospective follow-up period of 11 months.

RESULTS

Of the 503 CM-I patients, 328 participated in sports for a cumulative duration of 4641 seasons; 205 of these patients participated in contact sports. There were no serious or catastrophic neurological injuries. One patient had temporary extremity paresthesias that resolved within hours, and this was not definitely considered to be related to the CM-I. In the prospective cohort, there were no permanent neurological injuries.

CONCLUSIONS

No permanent or catastrophic neurological injuries were observed in CM-I patients participating in athletic activities. The authors believe that the risk of such injuries is low and that, in most cases, sports participation by children with CM-I is safe.

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Ravi Kumar, Ramesh Kumar, Grant W. Mallory, Jeffrey T. Jacob, David J. Daniels, Nicholas M. Wetjen, Andrew B. Foy, Brent R. O’Neill and Michelle J. Clarke

OBJECT

Nonpowder guns, defined as spring- or gas-powered BB or pellet guns, can be dangerous weapons that are often marketed to children. In recent decades, advances in compressed-gas technology have led to a significant increase in the power and muzzle velocity of these weapons. The risk of intracranial injury in children due to nonpowder weapons is poorly documented.

METHODS

A retrospective review was conducted at 3 institutions studying children 16 years or younger who had intracranial injuries secondary to nonpowder guns.

RESULTS

The authors reviewed 14 cases of intracranial injury in children from 3 institutions. Eleven (79%) of the 14 children were injured by BB guns, while 3 (21%) were injured by pellet guns. In 10 (71%) children, the injury was accidental. There was 1 recognized assault, but there were no suicide attempts; in the remaining 3 patients, the intention was indeterminate. There were no mortalities among the patients in this series. Ten (71%) of the children required operative intervention, and 6 (43%) were left with permanent neurological injuries, including epilepsy, cognitive deficits, hydrocephalus, diplopia, visual field cut, and blindness.

CONCLUSIONS

Nonpowder guns are weapons with the ability to penetrate a child’s skull and brain. Awareness should be raised among parents, children, and policy makers as to the risk posed by these weapons.

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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.

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Hannah E. Goldstein, Justin A. Neira, Matei Banu, Philipp R. Aldana, Bruno P. Braga, Douglas L. Brockmeyer, Michael L. DiLuna, Daniel H. Fulkerson, Todd C. Hankinson, Andrew H. Jea, Sean M. Lew, David D. Limbrick, Jonathan Martin, Joshua M. Pahys, Luis F. Rodriguez, Curtis J. Rozzelle, Gerald F. Tuite, Nicholas M. Wetjen and Richard C. E. Anderson

OBJECTIVE

The long-term effects of surgical fusion on the growing subaxial cervical spine are largely unknown. Recent cross-sectional studies have demonstrated that there is continued growth of the cervical spine through the teenage years. The purpose of this multicenter study was to determine the effects of rigid instrumentation and fusion on the growing subaxial cervical spine by investigating vertical growth, cervical alignment, cervical curvature, and adjacent-segment instability over time.

METHODS

A total of 15 centers participated in this multi-institutional retrospective study. Cases involving children less than 16 years of age who underwent rigid instrumentation and fusion of the subaxial cervical spine (C-2 and T-1 inclusive) with at least 1 year of clinical and radiographic follow-up were investigated. Charts were reviewed for clinical data. Postoperative and most recent radiographs, CT, and MR images were used to measure vertical growth and assess alignment and stability.

RESULTS

Eighty-one patients were included in the study, with a mean follow-up of 33 months. Ninety-five percent of patients had complete clinical resolution or significant improvement in symptoms. Postoperative cervical kyphosis was seen in only 4 patients (5%), and none developed a swan-neck deformity, unintended adjacent-level fusion, or instability. Of patients with at least 2 years of follow-up, 62% demonstrated growth across the fusion construct. On average, vertical growth was 79% (4-level constructs), 83% (3-level constructs), or 100% (2-level constructs) of expected growth. When comparing the group with continued vertical growth to the one without growth, there were no statistically significant differences in terms of age, sex, underlying etiology, surgical approach, or number of levels fused.

CONCLUSIONS

Continued vertical growth of the subaxial spine occurs in nearly two-thirds of children after rigid instrumentation and fusion of the subaxial spine. Failure of continued vertical growth is not associated with the patient’s age, sex, underlying etiology, number of levels fused, or surgical approach. Further studies are needed to understand this dichotomy and determine the long-term biomechanical effects of surgery on the growing pediatric cervical spine.