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Brandon C. Gabel, Joel Martin, John R. Crawford and Michael Levy

OBJECTIVE

The object of this study is to address what factors may necessitate the need for intensive care monitoring after elective uncomplicated craniotomy in pediatric patients who are initially managed in a non–intensive care unit setting postoperatively.

METHODS

A retrospective chart review was undertaken for all patients who underwent elective craniotomy for brain tumor between April of 2007 and April of 2012 and who were directly admitted to the floor postoperatively. Factors such as age, tumor type, craniotomy location, neurological comorbidities, reason for transfer to intensive care unit (ICU) level of care (if applicable), time between admittance to floor and transfer to ICU level of care, and reason for transfer to ICU level of care were assessed.

RESULTS

Adjusted logistic regression found 2 significant positive predictors of postoperative transfer to the ICU after initial admission to the floor: primitive neuroectodermal tumor pathology (OR 44.10, 95% CI 1.24–1572.16, p = 0.04), and repeat craniotomy during the same hospitalization (OR 13.97, 95% CI 1.21–160.66, p = 0.03). Conversely, 1 negative factor was found: low-grade glioma pathology (OR 0.05, 95% CI 0.00–0.87, p = 0.04).

CONCLUSIONS

Select pediatric patients may not require ICU level of care after elective uncomplicated pediatric craniotomy. Additional studies are needed to adequately address which patients would benefit from initial ICU admittance following elective craniotomies for brain tumors.

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Jeremy S. Wetzel, David P. Heaner, Brandon C. Gabel, R. Shane Tubbs and Joshua J. Chern

OBJECTIVE

The majority of children with myelomeningocele undergo implantation of CSF shunts. The efficacy of adding surveillance imaging to clinical evaluation during routine follow-up as a means to minimize the hazard associated with future shunt failure has not been thoroughly studied.

METHODS

A total of 300 spina bifida clinic visits during the calendar years between 2012 and 2016 were selected for this study (defined as the index clinic visit). Each index visit was preceded by a 6-month period during which no shunt evaluation of any kind was performed. At the index clinic visit, all patients were evaluated by a neurosurgeon. Seventy-four patients underwent previously scheduled surveillance CT or shunt series scans in addition to clinical evaluation (surveillance imaging group), and 226 patients did not undergo surveillance imaging (clinical evaluation group). Subsequent unexpected events, defined as emergency department visits, caregiver-requested clinic visits, and shunt revision surgeries were reviewed. The timing and likelihood of an unexpected event in each of the 2 groups were compared using Cox proportional hazard survival analysis. The rate of shunt revision surgery in the follow-up period as well as the associated outcomes and rate of complications were analyzed.

RESULTS

The clinical characteristics of the 2 groups were similar. In the clinical evaluation group, 4 of 226 (1.8%) patients underwent shunt revision based on clinical findings during the index visit, compared to 8 of 74 (10.8%) patients in the surveillance imaging group who underwent shunt revision based on clinical and imaging findings at that visit (p < 0.05). In the subsequent follow-up period, there were 74 unexpected events resulting in 10 shunt revisions in the clinical evaluation group, for an event rate of 33% and operation rate of 13.5%. In the surveillance imaging group there were 23 unexpected events resulting in 2 shunt revisions, for an event rate of 34.8% and an operation rate of 8.7%; neither difference was statistically significant. The complication rate for shunt revision surgery was also not different between the groups.

CONCLUSIONS

Obtaining predecided, routine surveillance imaging in children with myelomeningocele and shunted hydrocephalus resulted in more shunt revisions in asymptomatic patients. For patients who had negative results on surveillance imaging, the rate of shunt revision in the follow-up period was not significantly decreased compared to patients who underwent clinical examination only at the index visit.

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Brandon A. McCutcheon, Brian R. Hirshman, Brandon C. Gabel, Michael W. Heffner, Logan P. Marcus, Tyler S. Cole, Clark C. Chen, David C. Chang and Bob S. Carter

OBJECTIVE

The subspecialization of neurosurgical practice is an ongoing trend in modern neurosurgery. However, it remains unclear whether the degree of surgeon specialization is associated with improved patient outcomes. The authors hypothesized that a trend toward increased neurosurgeon specialization was associated with improved patient morbidity and mortality rates.

METHODS

The Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) was used (1998–2009). Patients were included in a spinal analysis cohort for instrumented spine surgery involving the cervical spine (International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification [ICD-9-CM] codes 81.31–81.33, 81.01–81.03, 84.61–84.62, and 84.66) or lumbar spine (codes 81.04–81.08, 81.34–81.38, 84.64–84.65, and 84.68). A cranial analysis cohort consisted of patients receiving a parenchymal excision or lobectomy operation (codes 01.53 and 01.59). Surgeon specialization was measured using unique surgeon identifiers in the NIS and defined as the proportion of a surgeon’s total practice dedicated to cranial or spinal cases.

RESULTS

A total of 46,029 and 231,875 patients were identified in the cranial and spinal analysis cohorts, respectively. On multivariate analysis in the cranial analysis cohort (after controlling for overall surgeon volume, patient demographic data/comorbidities, hospital characteristics, and admitting source), each percentage-point increase in a surgeon’s cranial specialization (that is, the proportion of cranial cases) was associated with a 0.0060 reduction in the log odds of patient mortality (95% CI 0.0034–0.0086) and a 0.0042 reduction in the log odds of morbidity (95% CI 0.0032–0.0052). This resulted in a 15% difference in the predicted probability of mortality for neurosurgeons at the 75th versus the 25th percentile of cranial specialization. In the spinal analysis cohort, each percentage-point increase in a surgeon’s spinal specialization was associated with a 0.0122 reduction in the log odds of mortality (95% CI 0.0074–0.0170) and a 0.0058 reduction in the log odds of morbidity (95% CI 0.0049–0.0067). This resulted in a 26.8% difference in the predicted probability of mortality for neurosurgeons at the 75th versus the 25th percentile of spinal specialization.

CONCLUSIONS

For both spinal and cranial surgery patient cohorts derived from the NIS database, increased surgeon specialization was significantly and independently associated with improved mortality and morbidity rates, even after controlling for overall case volume.

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Gregory G. Heuer, Brandon C. Gabel, Deb A. Bhowmick, Michael F. Stiefel, Robert W. Hurst and James M. Schuster

✓Spinal arteriovenous fistulas (AVFs) are relatively uncommon lesions that are often diagnosed in a delayed fashion. The authors present a cause of a symptomatic high-flow AVF that developed in a patient after traumatic injury to the upper cervical spine. The patient presented to the trauma bay after a motor vehicle collision, and was found to have a C-2 fracture involving the transverse foramen. Although the patient was neurologically intact on presentation, 6 hours after admission weakness developed on his left side. Imaging studies demonstrated complete transection of the distal cervical aspect of the right vertebral artery (VA) at the base of C-2, with antegrade and retrograde flow into a direct AVF, resulting in early filling of the right internal jugular vein and other external draining veins. The patient was treated endovascularly with coil occlusion of the VA both proximal and distal to the transection. The patient's weakness improved over the next 7 days. At the 12-week follow-up examination, the patient's fractures had healed and he was neurologically intact.

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Cecilia L. Dalle Ore, Robert C. Rennert, Alexander J. Schupper, Brandon C. Gabel, David Gonda, Bradley Peterson, Lawrence F. Marshall, Michael Levy and Hal S. Meltzer

OBJECTIVE

Pediatric traumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage (tSAH) often results in intensive care unit (ICU) admission, the performance of additional diagnostic studies, and ICU-level therapeutic interventions to identify and prevent episodes of neuroworsening.

METHODS

Data prospectively collected in an institutionally specific trauma registry between 2006 and 2015 were supplemented with a retrospective chart review of children admitted with isolated traumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage (tSAH) and an admission Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score of 13–15. Risk of blunt cerebrovascular injury (BCVI) was calculated using the BCVI clinical prediction score.

RESULTS

Three hundred seventeen of 10,395 pediatric trauma patients were admitted with tSAH. Of the 317 patients with tSAH, 51 children (16%, 23 female, 28 male) were identified with isolated tSAH without midline shift on neuroimaging and a GCS score of 13–15 at presentation. The median patient age was 4 years (range 18 days to 15 years). Seven had modified Fisher grade 3 tSAH; the remainder had grade 1 tSAH. Twenty-six patients (51%) had associated skull fractures; 4 involved the petrous temporal bone and 1 the carotid canal. Thirty-nine (76.5%) were admitted to the ICU and 12 (23.5%) to the surgical ward. Four had an elevated BCVI score. Eight underwent CT angiography; no vascular injuries were identified. Nine patients received an imaging-associated general anesthetic. Five received hypertonic saline in the ICU. Patients with a modified Fisher grade 1 tSAH had a significantly shorter ICU stay as compared to modified Fisher grade 3 tSAH (1.1 vs 2.5 days, p = 0.029). Neuroworsening was not observed in any child.

CONCLUSIONS

Children with isolated tSAH without midline shift and a GCS score of 13–15 at presentation appear to have minimal risk of neuroworsening despite the findings in some children of skull fractures, elevated modified Fisher grade, and elevated BCVI score. In this subgroup of children with tSAH, routine ICU-level care and additional diagnostic imaging may not be necessary for all patients. Children with modified Fisher grade 1 tSAH may be particularly unlikely to require ICU-level admission. Benefits to identifying a subgroup of children at low risk of neuroworsening include improvement in healthcare efficiency as well as decreased utilization of unnecessary and potentially morbid interventions, including exposure to ionizing radiation and general anesthesia.

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Jeremy S. Wetzel, David P. Heaner, Brandon C. Gabel, R. Shane Tubbs and Joshua J. Chern

OBJECTIVE

The majority of children with myelomeningocele undergo implantation of CSF shunts. The efficacy of adding surveillance imaging to clinical evaluation during routine follow-up as a means to minimize the hazard associated with future shunt failure has not been thoroughly studied.

METHODS

A total of 300 spina bifida clinic visits during the calendar years between 2012 and 2016 were selected for this study (defined as the index clinic visit). Each index visit was preceded by a 6-month period during which no shunt evaluation of any kind was performed. At the index clinic visit, all patients were evaluated by a neurosurgeon. Seventy-four patients underwent previously scheduled surveillance CT or shunt series scans in addition to clinical evaluation (surveillance imaging group), and 226 patients did not undergo surveillance imaging (clinical evaluation group). Subsequent unexpected events, defined as emergency department visits, caregiver-requested clinic visits, and shunt revision surgeries were reviewed. The timing and likelihood of an unexpected event in each of the 2 groups were compared using Cox proportional hazard survival analysis. The rate of shunt revision surgery in the follow-up period as well as the associated outcomes and rate of complications were analyzed.

RESULTS

The clinical characteristics of the 2 groups were similar. In the clinical evaluation group, 4 of 226 (1.8%) patients underwent shunt revision based on clinical findings during the index visit, compared to 8 of 74 (10.8%) patients in the surveillance imaging group who underwent shunt revision based on clinical and imaging findings at that visit (p < 0.05). In the subsequent follow-up period, there were 74 unexpected events resulting in 10 shunt revisions in the clinical evaluation group, for an event rate of 33% and operation rate of 13.5%. In the surveillance imaging group there were 23 unexpected events resulting in 2 shunt revisions, for an event rate of 34.8% and an operation rate of 8.7%; neither difference was statistically significant. The complication rate for shunt revision surgery was also not different between the groups.

CONCLUSIONS

Obtaining predecided, routine surveillance imaging in children with myelomeningocele and shunted hydrocephalus resulted in more shunt revisions in asymptomatic patients. For patients who had negative results on surveillance imaging, the rate of shunt revision in the follow-up period was not significantly decreased compared to patients who underwent clinical examination only at the index visit.

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Bert W. O'Malley Jr., M. Sean Grady, Brandon C. Gabel, Marc A. Cohen, Gregory G. Heuer, Jared Pisapia, Leif-Erik Bohman and Jason M. Leibowitz

Object

The endoscopic endonasal approach for resection of pituitary lesions is an effective surgical option for tumors of the sella turcica. In this study the authors compared outcomes after either purely endoscopic resection or traditional microscope-aided resection. They also attempted to determine the learning curve associated with a surgical team converting to endoscopic techniques.

Methods

Retrospective data were collected on patients who were surgically treated for a pituitary lesion at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania between July 2003 and May 2008. Age, sex, race, presenting symptoms, length of hospital stay, surgical approach, duration of surgery, tumor pathological features, gross-total resection (GTR) of tumor, recurrence of the lesion, and intraoperative and postoperative complications were noted. All procedures were performed by the same senior neurosurgeon, who was initially unfamiliar with the endoscopic endonasal approach.

Results

A total of 25 patients underwent microscopic resection and 25 patients underwent endoscopic resection performed by a single skull base team consisting of the same senior neurosurgeon and otorhinolaryngologist (M.S.G. and B.W.O.). In the microscopically treated cohort, there were 8 intra- or postoperative complications, 6 intraoperative CSF leaks, 17 (77%) of 22 patients had GTR on postoperative imaging, 5 patients underwent ≥ 2 operations, and 10 (59%) of 17 patients reported total symptom resolution at follow-up. The endoscopically treated group had 7 intraor postoperative complications and 7 intraoperative CSF leaks. Of the patients who had pre- and postoperative imaging studies, 14 (66%) of 21 endoscopically treated patients had GTR; 4 patients had ≥ 2 operations, and 10 (66%) of 15 patients reported complete symptom resolution at follow-up. The first 9 patients who were treated endoscopically had a mean surgical time of 3.42 hours and a mean hospital stay of 4.67 days. The next 8 patients treated had a mean surgical time of 3.11 hours and a mean hospital stay of 3.13 days. The final 8 patients treated endoscopically had a mean surgical time of 2.22 hours and a mean hospital stay of 3.88 days. The difference in length of operation between the first 9 and the last 8 patients treated endoscopically was significantly different. There was a trend toward decreased CSF leaks and other complications from the first 2 groups compared with the third group.

Conclusions

In this subset of patients, the use of endoscopic endonasal resection results in a similar complication and symptom resolution rate compared with traditional techniques. The authors postulate that the learning curve for endoscopic resection can be ≤ 17 procedures.

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Bayard Wilson, Erik Curtis, Brian Hirshman, Ahmet Oygar, Karen Chen, Brandon C. Gabel, Florin Vaida, David W. Allison and Joseph D. Ciacci

OBJECTIVE

Normative data exists for stimulus-evoked pedicle screw electromyography (EMG) current thresholds in the lumbar spine, and is routinely referenced during spine surgeries to detect a screw breach, prevent injury of neural elements, and ensure the most biomechanically sound instrumentation construct. To date, similar normative data for cervical lateral mass screws is limited, thus the utility of lateral mass screw testing remains unclear. To address this disparity, in this study the authors describe cumulative lateral mass screw stimulation threshold data in patients undergoing posterior cervical instrumentation with lateral mass screws. These data are correlated with screw placement on postoperative imaging, and a novel correlation is discovered with direct clinical implications.

METHODS

Using a ball-tip probe, 154 lateral mass screws in 21 patients were electrically tested intraoperatively. In each case, for each screw, the lowest (or threshold) current at which the first polyphasic stimulus-evoked EMG response was reproducibly observed by a neurophysiologist was recorded. All patients underwent postoperative CT. Screw position within the lateral mass was first measured in the axial and sagittal planes for each lateral mass screw using the CT images. Screw placement was also evaluated by 2 independent physicians, blinded to current threshold data, on a binary scale of acceptability. The predictive capacity of screw EMG threshold data was evaluated via multivariable regression analyses and receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analyses. Predictive capacity was examined with respect to screw position within the lateral mass, as well as screw acceptability.

RESULTS

Lateral mass screw EMG thresholds did not appear to differ significantly for screws considered “acceptable” versus “unacceptable” according to the radiographic criteria. Accordingly, ROC analysis confirmed that EMG current threshold data were of minimal utility in predicting screw radiographic acceptability. However, EMG threshold was significantly predictive of screw medial distance from the spinal canal. A screw stimulating below 7.5 mA correctly identified a screw as being within 2 mm of the spinal canal with 75% sensitivity and 92% specificity (positive predictive value 20%, negative predictive value 99.3%), independent of its distance relative to other lateral mass landmarks. EMG current threshold was not significantly predictive of screw deviation in the superior or inferior directions, and was inversely predictive of screw deviations in the lateral direction.

CONCLUSIONS

In the context of uncertainty regarding the utility of cervical lateral mass EMG current threshold data, this study found that EMG current thresholds correspond significantly, and exclusively, with screw distance from the spinal canal. This association appears independent of other criteria for screw misplacement. As such, the authors recommend that EMG current thresholds be referenced in the case of a suspected medial breach as an effective means to rule out screw placement too medial to the spinal canal.