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Letter to the Editor

C-1 lateral mass screw

Shujie Tang

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Shawyon Baygani, Kristin Zieles, and Andrew Jea

OBJECTIVE

The purpose of this study is to determine if the preoperative Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory (PedsQL) score is predictive of short- and intermediate-term PedsQL outcomes following Chiari decompression surgery. The utility of preoperative patient-reported outcomes (PROs) in predicting pain, opioid consumption, and long-term PROs has been demonstrated in adult spine surgery. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, however, there is currently no widely accepted tool to predict short-, intermediate-, or long-term outcomes after pediatric Chiari decompression surgery.

METHODS

A prospectively maintained database was retrospectively reviewed. Patients who had undergone first-time decompression for symptomatic Chiari malformation were identified and grouped according to their preoperative PedsQL scores: mild disability (score 80–100), moderate disability (score 60–79), and severe disability (score < 60). PedsQL scores at the 6-week, 3-month, and/or 6-month follow-ups were collected. Preoperative PedsQL subgroups were tested for an association with demographic and perioperative characteristics using one-way ANOVA or chi-square analysis. Preoperative PedsQL subgroups were tested for an association with improvements in short- and intermediate-term PedsQL scores using one-way ANOVA and a paired Wilcoxon signed-rank test controlling for statistically different demographic characteristics when appropriate.

RESULTS

A total of 87 patients were included in this analysis. According to their preoperative PedsQL scores, 28% of patients had mild disability, 40% had moderate disability, and 32% had severe disability. There was a significant difference in the prevalence of comorbidities (p = 0.009) and the presenting symptoms of headaches (p = 0.032) and myelopathy (p = 0.047) among the subgroups; however, in terms of other demographic or operative factors, there was no significant difference. Patients with greater preoperative disability demonstrated statistically significantly lower PedsQL scores at all postoperative time points, except in terms of the parent-reported PedsQL at 6 months after surgery (p = 0.195). Patients with severe disability demonstrated statistically significantly greater improvements (compared to preoperative scores) in PedsQL scores at all time points after surgery, except in terms of the 6-week and 6-month PROs and the 6-month parent-reported outcomes (p = 0.068, 0.483, and 0.076, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS

Patients with severe disability, as assessed by the PedsQL, had lower absolute PedsQL scores at all time points after surgery but greater improvement in short- and intermediate-term PROs. The authors conclude that the PedsQL is an efficient and accurate tool that can quickly assess patient disability in the preoperative period and predict both short- and intermediate-term surgical outcomes.

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Jonathan N. Sellin, Aditya Vedantam, Thomas G. Luerssen, and Andrew Jea

OBJECTIVE

The complication profile of epidural triamcinolone acetonide use during lumbar decompression surgery is not known. However, isolated reports of increased risk of delayed CSF leakage with the use of triamcinolone acetonide in adult spinal surgery patients have been published. The purpose of this study was to determine the safety of epidural triamcinolone acetonide use in conjunction with lumbar decompression surgery in pediatric patients.

METHODS

The medical records of all patients who underwent lumbar decompression surgery with or without discectomy between July 1, 2007, and July 31, 2015, were retrospectively reviewed.

RESULTS

During the study period, 58 patients underwent 59 spine procedures at Texas Children's Hospital. There were 33 female and 25 male patients. The mean age at surgery was 16.5 years (range 12–24 years). Patients were followed for an average of 38.2 months (range 4–97 months). Triamcinolone acetonide was used in 28 (of 35 total) cases of discectomy; there were no cases of delayed symptomatic CSF leaks (0%) in the minimally invasive and open discectomies. On the other hand, triamcinolone acetonide was used in 14 (of 24 total) cases of multilevel laminectomy, among which there were 10 delayed CSF leaks (71.4%) requiring treatment. The use of triamcinolone acetonide in patients who underwent multilevel laminectomy was significantly associated with an increased risk of delayed CSF leaks or pseudomeningoceles (Fisher's exact test, p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

There was an unacceptable incidence of delayed postoperative CSF leaks when epidural triamcinolone acetonide was used in patients who underwent multilevel laminectomy.

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Spinal instrumentation in infants, children, and adolescents: a review

JNSPG 75th Anniversary Invited Review Article

Stephen Mendenhall, Dillon Mobasser, Katherine Relyea, and Andrew Jea

OBJECTIVE

The evolution of pediatric spinal instrumentation has progressed in the last 70 years since the popularization of the Harrington rod showing the feasibility of placing spinal instrumentation into the pediatric spine. Although lacking in pediatric-specific spinal instrumentation, when possible, adult instrumentation techniques and tools have been adapted for the pediatric spine. A new generation of pediatric neurosurgeons with interest in complex spine disorder has pushed the field forward, while keeping the special nuances of the growing immature spine in mind. The authors sought to review their own experience with various types of spinal instrumentation in the pediatric spine and document the state of the art for pediatric spine surgery.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed patients in their practice who underwent complex spine surgery. Patient demographics, operative data, and perioperative complications were recorded. At the same time, the authors surveyed the literature for spinal instrumentation techniques that have been utilized in the pediatric spine. The authors chronicle the past and present of pediatric spinal instrumentation, and speculate about its future.

RESULTS

The medical records of the first 361 patients who underwent 384 procedures involving spinal instrumentation from July 1, 2007, to May 31, 2018, were analyzed. The mean age at surgery was 12 years and 6 months (range 3 months to 21 years and 4 months). The types of spinal instrumentation utilized included occipital screws (94 cases); C1 lateral mass screws (115 cases); C2 pars/translaminar screws (143 cases); subaxial cervical lateral mass screws (95 cases); thoracic and lumbar spine traditional-trajectory and cortical-trajectory pedicle screws (234 cases); thoracic and lumbar sublaminar, subtransverse, and subcostal polyester bands (65 cases); S1 pedicle screws (103 cases); and S2 alar-iliac/iliac screws (56 cases). Complications related to spinal instrumentation included hardware-related skin breakdown (1.8%), infection (1.8%), proximal junctional kyphosis (1.0%), pseudarthroses (1.0%), screw malpositioning (0.5%), CSF leak (0.5%), hardware failure (0.5%), graft migration (0.3%), nerve root injury (0.3%), and vertebral artery injury (0.3%).

CONCLUSIONS

Pediatric neurosurgeons with an interest in complex spine disorders in children should develop a comprehensive armamentarium of safe techniques for placing rigid and nonrigid spinal instrumentation even in the smallest of children, with low complication rates. The authors’ review provides some benchmarks and outcomes for comparison, and furnishes a historical perspective of the past and future of pediatric spine surgery.

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Jacob Archer, Meena Thatikunta, and Andrew Jea

The transoral transpharyngeal approach is the standard approach to resect the odontoid process and decompress the cervicomedullary spinal cord. There are some significant risks associated with this approach, however, including infection, CSF leak, prolonged intubation or tracheostomy, need for nasogastric tube feeding, extended hospitalization, and possible effects of phonation. Other ventral approaches, such as transmandibular and circumglossal, endoscopic transcervical, and endoscopic transnasal, are also viable alternatives but are technically challenging or may still traverse the nasopharyngeal cavity. Far-lateral and posterior extradural approaches to the craniocervical junction require extensive soft-tissue dissection. Recently, a posterior transdural approach was used to resect retro-odontoid cysts in 3 adult patients. The authors present the case of a 12-year-old girl with Down syndrome and significant spinal cord compression due to basilar invagination and a retro-flexed odontoid process. A posterior transdural odontoidectomy prior to occiptocervical fusion was performed. At 12 months after surgery, the authors report satisfactory clinical and radiographic outcomes with this approach.