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Eric Anthony Sribnick, Vladamir Y. Dadashev, Barunashish Brahma, and David M. Wrubel

Object

The authors describe the use of inside-outside occipital screws in 21 children with occipitocervical instability requiring occipitocervical fusion.

Methods

The ages of the patients were from 2 to 15 years, and patients presented with a variety of causes of occipitocervical instability, including congenital disorders, posttraumatic instability, idiopathic degeneration, and postoperative instability. Surgeries frequently included foramen magnum decompression, duraplasty, and laminectomy, but all patients required occipitocervical instrumentation and arthrodesis. Postoperative orthosis included the use of either a cervical collar or halo device. In all but one case, patients were followed postoperatively for at least 12 months.

Results

The mean age of patients was 9.93 years. Inside-outside screws were used in all reported cases. Rib autograft was used in all patients. In addition, demineralized bone matrix was used in 2 cases, and bone morphogenetic protein was used in 2 patients. Two patients required halo placement, and the other 19 were placed in cervical collars. The average time postoperative orthotics were used was 2.82 months. Arthrodesis was determined radiographically and was noted in all patients. No operative complications were noted; however, postoperative complications included 1 wound infection, 2 cases of hardware loosening, and the need for tracheostomy in 2 patients.

Conclusions

Inside-outside screws were found to be a useful component of occipitocervical instrumentation in pediatric patients ranging from 2 to 15 years of age. Arthrodesis was demonstrated in all cases.

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Andrew Reisner, Alexis D. Smith, David M. Wrubel, Bryan E. Buster, Michael S. Sawvel, Laura S. Blackwell, Nealen G. Laxpati, Barunashish Brahma, and Joshua J. Chern

OBJECTIVE

The management of hydrocephalus resulting from intraventricular hemorrhage related to extreme prematurity remains demanding. Given the complexities of controlling hydrocephalus in this population, less commonly used procedures may be required. The authors examined the utility of ventriculogallbladder (VGB) shunts in a series of such children.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed the medical records of all children who underwent surgery for hydrocephalus in the period from 2011 through 2019 at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Six patients who underwent VGB shunt placement were identified among a larger cohort of 609 patients who had either a new shunt or a newly changed distal terminus site. The authors present an analysis of this series, including a case of laparoscopy-assisted distal VGB shunt revision.

RESULTS

The mean age at initial shunt placement was 5.1 months (range 3.0–9.4 months), with patients undergoing a mean of 11.8 shunt procedures (range 5–17) prior to the initial VGB shunt placement at a mean age of 5.3 years (range 7.9 months–12.8 years). All 6 patients with VGB shunt placement had hydrocephalus related to extreme prematurity (gestational age < 28 weeks). At the time of VGB shunt placement, all had complex medical and surgical histories, including poor venous access due to congenital or iatrogenic thrombosis or thrombophlebitis and a peritoneum hostile to distal shunt placement related to severe necrotizing enterocolitis. VGB complications included 1 case of shunt infection, identified at postoperative day 6, and 2 cases of distal shunt failure due to retraction of the distal end of the VGB shunt. In all, there were 3 conversions back to ventriculoperitoneal or ventriculoatrial shunts due to the 2 previously mentioned complications, plus 1 patient who outgrew their initial VGB shunt. Three of 6 patients remain with a VGB shunt, including 1 who underwent laparoscopy-assisted distal shunt revision 110.5 months after initial VGB shunt insertion.

CONCLUSIONS

Placement of VGB shunts should be considered in the armamentarium of procedures that may be used in the particularly difficult cohort of children with hydrocephalus related to extreme prematurity. VGB shunts show utility as both a definitive treatment and as a “bridge” procedure until the patient is larger and comorbid abdominal and/or vascular issues have resolved sufficiently to allow conversion back to ventriculoperitoneal or ventriculoatrial shunts, if needed.

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Joshua J. Chern, Samir Sarda, Brian M. Howard, Andrew Jea, R. Shane Tubbs, Barunashish Brahma, David M. Wrubel, Andrew Reisner, and William Boydston

Object

Nonoperative blunt head trauma is a common reason for admission in a pediatric hospital. Adverse events, such as growing skull fracture, are rare, and the incidence of such morbidity is not known. As a result, optimal follow-up care is not clear.

Methods

Patients admitted after minor blunt head trauma between May 1, 2009, and April 30, 2013, were identified at a single institution. Demographic, socioeconomic, and clinical characteristics were retrieved from administrative and outpatient databases. Clinical events within the 180-day period following discharge were reviewed and analyzed. These events included emergency department (ED) visits, need for surgical procedures, clinic visits, and surveillance imaging utilization. Associations among these clinical events and potential contributing factors were analyzed using appropriate statistical methods.

Results

There were 937 admissions for minor blunt head trauma in the 4-year period. Patients who required surgical interventions during the index admission were excluded. The average age of the admitted patients was 5.53 years, and the average length of stay was 1.7 days; 15.7% of patients were admitted for concussion symptoms with negative imaging findings, and 26.4% of patients suffered a skull fracture without intracranial injury. Patients presented with subdural, subarachnoid, or intraventricular hemorrhage in 11.6%, 9.19%, and 0.53% of cases, respectively. After discharge, 672 patients returned for at least 1 follow-up clinic visit (71.7%), and surveillance imaging was obtained at the time of the visit in 343 instances.

The number of adverse events was small and consisted of 34 ED visits and 3 surgeries. Some of the ED visits could have been prevented with better discharge instructions, but none of the surgery was preventable. Furthermore, the pattern of postinjury surveillance imaging utilization correlated with physician identity but not with injury severity. Because the number of adverse events was small, surveillance imaging could not be shown to positively influence outcomes.

Conclusions

Adverse events after nonoperative mild traumatic injury are rare. The routine use of postinjury surveillance imaging remains controversial, but these data suggest that such imaging does not effectively identify those who require operative intervention.

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David M. Wrubel, Kelsie J. Riemenschneider, Corinne Braender, Brandon A. Miller, Daniel A. Hirsh, Andrew Reisner, William Boydston, Barunashish Brahma, and Joshua J. Chern

Object

Quality assessment measures have not been well developed for pediatric neurosurgical patients. This report documents the authors' experience in extracting information from an administrative database to establish the rate of return to system within 30 days of pediatric neurosurgical procedures.

Methods

Demographic, socioeconomic, and clinical characteristics were prospectively collected in administrative, business, and operating room databases. The primary end point was an unexpected return to the hospital system within 30 days from the date of a pediatric neurosurgical procedure. Statistical methods were used to identify clinical and demographic factors associated with the primary end point.

Results

There were 1358 pediatric neurosurgical procedures performed in the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta operating rooms in 2012, with 37.4% of these surgeries being preceded by admissions through the emergency department. Medicare or Medicaid was the payor for 54.9% of surgeries, and 37.6% of surgeries were shunt related. There were 148 unexpected returns to the system within 30 days after surgery, and in 109 of these cases, the patient had a presenting complaint that was attributable to the index surgery (related returns). The most common complaints were headache, nausea, vomiting, or seizure after shunt revision or cranial procedures (n = 62). The next most common reason for re-presentation was for wound concerns (n = 30). Thirty-seven of the 109 related returns resulted in a reoperation. The monthly rate of related returns was 8.1% ± 2.5% over the 12-month study period. When using related returns as the dependent variable, the authors found that patients who underwent a shunt-related surgery were both more likely to unexpectedly return to the system (OR 1.86, p = 0.008) and to require surgery upon readmission (OR 3.28, p = 0.004). Because an extended hospitalization shortened the window of time for readmission after surgery, extended length of stay was protective against return to system within 30 days of surgery. Importantly, if related and unrelated returns were analyzed together as the dependent variable (n = 148), no independent clinical and demographic risk factor could be identified.

Conclusions

Quality assessment measures need to be clearly and carefully defined, as the definition itself will impact the analytical results. Clinicians must play a leading role in the development of these measures to ensure their clinical meaningfulness.