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Stephen L. Reintjes, Ernest K. Amankwah, Luis F. Rodriguez, Carolyn C. Carey and Gerald F. Tuite


Fusion rates are high for children undergoing posterior cervical fusion (PCF) and occipito-cervical fusion (OCF). Autologous bone has been widely used as the graft material of choice, despite the risk of donor-site morbidity associated with harvesting the bone, possibly because very low fusion rates were reported with posterior allograft cervical fusions in children several decades ago. Higher overall fusion rates using allograft in adults, associated with improvements in internal fixation techniques and the availability of osteoinductive substances such as bone morphogenetic protein (BMP), have led to heightened enthusiasm for the use of bank bone during pediatric PCF. A systematic review was performed to study factors associated with successful bone fusion, including the type of bone graft used.


The authors performed a comprehensive PubMed search of English-language articles pertaining to PCF and OCF in patients less than 18 years old. Of the 561 abstracts selected, 148 articles were reviewed, resulting in 60 articles that had sufficient detail to be included in the analysis. A meta-regression analysis was performed to determine if and how age, fusion technique, levels fused, fusion substrate, BMP use, postoperative bracing, and radiographic fusion criteria were related to the pooled prevalence estimates. A systematic review of the literature was performed according to the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) statement.


A total of 604 patients met the specific inclusion and exclusion criteria. The overall fusion rate was 93%, with a mean age of 9.3 years and mean follow-up of 38.7 months. A total of 539 patients had fusion with autograft (94% fusion rate) and 65 patients with allograft (80% fusion rate). Multivariate meta-regression analysis showed that higher fusion rates were associated with OCF compared with fusions that excluded the occiput (p < 0.001), with the use of autograft instead of allograft (p < 0.001), and with the use of CT to define fusion instead of plain radiography alone. The type of internal fixation, the use of BMP, patient age, and the duration of follow-up were not found to be associated with fusion rates in the multivariate analysis.


Fusion rates for PCF are high, with higher rates of fusion seen when autograft is used as the bone substrate and when the occiput is included in the fusion construct. Further study of the use of allograft as a viable alternative to autograft bone fusion is warranted because limited data are available regarding the use of allograft in combination with more rigid internal fixation techniques and osteoinductive substances, both of which may enhance fusion rates with allograft.

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Jotham C. Manwaring, Devon Truong, Armen R. Deukmedjian, Carolyn M. Carey, Bruce B. Storrs, Luis F. Rodriguez, Lisa Tetreault and Gerald F. Tuite

The management of newborns with extreme macrocephaly related to hydrocephalus can be difficult; balancing the treatment of severe cranial deformity with optimal hydrocephalus management can be complicated. Excessive CSF drainage can result in significant suture overlap that leads to difficulties in patient positioning, secondary synostosis, and long-term aesthetic complications. Delayed cranial reduction and remodeling procedures carry significant risk, and the aesthetic outcomes have sometimes been poor.

The authors describe a newborn with severe macrocephaly who underwent shunt placement followed by a limited cranial reduction and fixation procedure using an absorbable plate within the 1st week of life. The procedure produced an immediate intracranial volume reduction of 49%. This novel management strategy facilitated patient positioning, simplified hydrocephalus management, and provided an excellent aesthetic outcome.

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Andrew C. Vivas, Nir Shimony, Eric M. Jackson, Risheng Xu, George I. Jallo, Luis Rodriguez, Gerald F. Tuite and Carolyn M. Carey


Hydrocephalus associated with subdural hygromas is a rare complication after decompression of Chiari malformation type I (CM-I). There is no consensus for management of this complication. The authors present a series of 5 pediatric patients who underwent CM-I decompression with placement of a dural graft complicated by posterior fossa hygromas and hydrocephalus that were successfully managed nonoperatively.


A retrospective review over the last 5 years of patients who presented with hydrocephalus and subdural hygromas following foramen magnum decompression with placement of a dural graft for CM-I was conducted at 2 pediatric institutions. Their preoperative presentation, perioperative hospital course, and postoperative re-presentation are discussed with attention to their treatment regimen and ultimate outcome. In addition to reporting these cases, the authors discuss all similar cases found in their literature review.


Over the last 5 years, the authors have encountered 194 pediatric cases of CM-I decompression with duraplasty equally distributed at the 2 institutions. Of those cases, 5 pediatric patients with a delayed postoperative complication involving hydrocephalus and subdural hygromas were identified. The 5 patients were managed nonoperatively with acetazolamide and high-dose dexamethasone; dosages of both drugs were adjusted to the age and weight of each patient. All patients were symptom free at follow-up and exhibited resolution of their pathology on imaging. Thirteen similar pediatric cases and 17 adult cases were identified in the literature review. Most reported cases were treated with CSF diversion or reoperation. There were a total of 4 cases previously reported with successful nonoperative management. Of these cases, only 1 case was reported in the pediatric population.


De novo hydrocephalus, in association with subdural hygromas following CM-I decompression, is rare. This presentation suggests that these complications after posterior fossa decompression with duraplasty can be treated with nonoperative medical management, therefore obviating the need for CSF diversion or reoperation.