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Andrew B. Foy, Caterina Giannini and Corey Raffel

✓Bovine tissues are now routinely used for dural closure in cranial and spinal surgery. The authors report the case of an 18-year-old woman with a history of myelomeningocele who had symptoms of tethered cord syndrome and presented to a regional hospital. At that hospital she underwent a cord untethering procedure. The spinal dura was closed with Durepair, a dural substitute derived from fetal bovine skin. Her postoperative course was complicated by a cerebrospinal fluid leak that was surgically repaired. Following this, she developed erythroderma, intermittent fevers, eosinophilia, and marked elevation in serum immunoglobulin E. She was then transferred to the authors' institution. A skin antigen test to beef was administered, which revealed a positive reaction. A radioallergosorbent test to beef also yielded positive results. She was taken to the operating room for removal of the bovine graft due to concern for an allergic reaction to the graft. The graft material showed evidence of eosinophilic infiltration. Her clinical symptoms and laboratory values all improved after surgery. To the authors' knowledge this is the first reported case of an allergic reaction to bovine-based dural substitutes.

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Michelle J. Clarke, Andrew B. Foy, Nicholas Wetjen and Corey Raffel


Subependymal giant cell astrocytomas (SEGAs) are a common manifestation of tuberous sclerosis (TS). These evolving tumors have a propensity to cause obstructive hydrocephalus, usually due to obstruction at the level of the foramen of Monro. Differentiating SEGAs from subependymal nodules (SENs) before obstruction occurs may improve the morbidity associated with these tumors. In this study the authors' aim was to determine imaging characteristics of proven tumors in a single-center pediatric population.


The authors retrospectively reviewed all records and images obtained in patients with TS in whom results of biopsy sampling had proven that their tumors were SEGAs. Time to presentation, signs and symptoms at presentation, and imaging characteristics of the evolving tumors were noted. Twelve patients with 14 SEGAs proven by the results of biopsy sampling were reviewed. Resection was recommended for symptomatic and neuroimaging evidence of hydrocephalus (41%), tumor growth without evidence of hydrocephalus (33%), and for poorly controlled seizures (25%). The mean diameter of the tumors at the time of resection was 1.9 cm (range 0.3–4 cm), and no tumor recurred. Because of the pathological and radiographic continuum of SENs and SEGAs, it remains difficult to predict whether and when a given lesion will progress. Tumor growth and contrast enhancement are the most common signs of progression on neuroimages, and may be seen prior to the development of obstructive hydrocephalus.


Patients with SENs and SEGAs should undergo follow-up neuroimaging at yearly intervals, and if lesions show signs of progression (contrast enhancement or growth), these intervals should be shortened and consideration given to early resection.

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Elsa V. Arocho-Quinones, Amie Kolimas, Peter S. LaViolette, Bruce A. Kaufman, Andrew B. Foy, Marike Zwienenberg and Sean M. Lew


Split laminotomy is a technique for accessing the spinal canal from the posterior midline that minimizes muscle dissection and bone removal. Benefits of this approach in minimizing postoperative pain and muscle atrophy in the adult population have been reported, but pediatric data are limited. Herein, the authors evaluate the benefits of the split laminotomy technique in pediatric patients.


Data obtained in patients who underwent posterior spine surgery at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin for an intradural midline pathology between April 2008 and June 2015 were reviewed retrospectively. Each patient was assigned to one of two groups, the split-laminotomy or conventional-laminotomy group. The primary outcomes assessed were mean daily pain score, total opioid use over a period of 72 hours after surgery, and the degree of paraspinal muscle atrophy and fat infiltration found on short-term (1–4 months) and long-term (1–4 years) follow-up spine MRI studies.


A total of 117 patients underwent lumbar-level surgery (83 conventional laminotomy, 34 split laminotomy), and 8 patients underwent thoracic-level surgery (4 in each group). No significant difference in the mean daily pain scores between groups was found. The daily opioid use was significantly lower in the split-laminotomy group on postoperative day 0 (POD0) and POD1 but not on POD2 (p = 0.01, 0.01, and 0.10, respectively). The total opioid use over the 72-hour postoperative period was significantly lower in the split-laminotomy group (p = 0.0008). The fat/muscle ratio was significantly higher in both the short-term and long-term follow-up periods in the conventional-laminotomy group (p = 0.01 and 0.0002, respectively). The rate of change of paraspinal muscle fat infiltration was significantly lower in the split-laminotomy group than in the conventional-laminotomy group (p = 0.007). The incidence of complications was not significantly different between groups (p = 0.08).


This study was of the largest series reported thus far of pediatric patients who underwent split laminotomy and the only controlled study that has involved children. The authors’ results reinforce the short-term benefit of split laminotomy in minimizing acute postoperative pain and long-term benefits of decreasing muscle atrophy and fatty degeneration, which are known to be associated with the development of chronic pain and spinal instability. Additional efforts for assessing long-term effects in the development of chronic pain, spinal instability, and spinal deformity are still necessary.

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Michelle J. Clarke, Daniel L. Price, Harry J. Cloft, Leal G. Segura, Cindy A. Hill, Meghen B. Browning, Jon M. Brandt, Sean M. Lew and Andrew B. Foy

Osteosarcoma is an aggressive primary bone tumor. It is currently treated with multimodality therapy including en bloc resection, which has been demonstrated to confer a survival benefit over intralesional resection. The authors present the case of an 8-year-old girl with a C-1 lateral mass osteosarcoma, which was treated with a 4-stage en bloc resection and spinal reconstruction. While technically complex, the feasibility of en bloc resection for spinal osteosarcoma should be explored in the pediatric population.

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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


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.


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


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.


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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Surya Sri Krishna Gour, Mohit Agrawal and Sachin A. Borkar