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Michael J. Cools, Carolyn S. Quinsey and Scott W. Elton

OBJECTIVE

The choice of graft material for duraplasty in decompressions of Chiari malformations remains a matter of debate. The authors present a detailed technique for harvesting ligamenta nuchae, as well as the clinical and radiographic outcomes of this technique, in a case series.

METHODS

The authors conducted a retrospective study evaluating the outcomes of Chiari malformation type I decompression and duraplasty in children aged 0–18 years at a single institution from 2013 to 2016. They collected both intraoperative and postoperative variables and compared them qualitatively to published data.

RESULTS

During the study period, the authors performed 25 Chiari malformation decompressions with ligamentum nuchae graft duraplasties. Of the 25 patients, 10 were females, and the mean age at surgery was 8.6 years (range 13 months to 18 years). The median operative time was 163 minutes (IQR 152–187 minutes), with approximately 10 minutes needed by a resident surgeon to harvest the graft. The mean length of stay was 3 nights (range 2–6 nights), and the mean follow-up was 12.6 months (range 0.5–43.5 months). One patient (4%) developed a CSF leak that was repaired using an oversewing patch. There were no postoperative pseudomeningoceles or infections. Of the 19 patients presenting with a syrinx, imaging showed improvement in 10 (53%) and 8 (42%) had stable syrinx size on imaging. Of 16 patients presenting with a symptomatic Chiari malformation, 14 (87.5%) experienced resolution of symptoms and in 1 (4%) symptoms remained the same. One patient (4%) presented with worsening syrinx and symptoms 1.5 months after initial surgery and underwent repeat decompression.

CONCLUSIONS

The authors describe a series of clinical and imaging outcomes of patients who underwent Chiari malformation decompression and duraplasty with a harvested ligamentum nuchae. The rates of postoperative CSF leak are similar to established techniques of autologous and artificial grafts, with similarly successful outcomes. Further study will be needed with larger patient cohorts to more directly compare duraplasty graft outcomes.

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Carolyn S. Quinsey, Katie Krause, Lissa C. Baird, Christina M. Sayama and Nathan R. Selden

OBJECTIVE

The relationship between a tethered cord (TC) and neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) and NF2 is not known. The purpose of this study was to define the incidence of TC in pediatric neurosurgical patients who present with NF.

METHODS

The authors performed a single-institution (tertiary care pediatric hospital) 10-year retrospective analysis of patients who were diagnosed with or who underwent surgery for a TC and/or NF. Clinical and radiological characteristics were analyzed, as was histopathology.

RESULTS

A total of 424 patients underwent surgery for a TC during the study period, and 67 patients with NF were seen in the pediatric neurosurgery clinic. Of these 67 patients, 9 (13%) were diagnosed with a TC, and filum lysis surgery was recommended. Among the 9 patients with NF recommended for TC-release surgery, 4 (44%) were female, the mean age was 8 years (range 4–14 years), the conus position ranged from L1–2 to L-3, and 3 (33%) had a filum lipoma, defined as high signal intensity on T1-weighted MR images. All 9 of these patients presented with neuromotor, skeletal, voiding, and/or pain-related symptoms. Histopathological examination consistently revealed dense fibroconnective tissue and blood vessels.

CONCLUSIONS

Despite the lack of any known pathophysiological relationship between NF and TC, the incidence of a symptomatic TC in patients with NF1 and NF2 who presented for any reason to this tertiary care pediatric neurosurgery clinic was 13%. Counseling patients and families regarding TC symptomatology might be indicated in this patient population.

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Carolyn Quinsey, Jessica Eaton, Weston Northam, Matt Gilleskie, Anthony Charles and Eldad Hadar

Global health research can transform clinical and surgical practice worldwide. Partnerships between US academic centers and hospitals in low- and middle-income counties can improve clinical care at the host institution hospital and give the visiting institution access to a large volume of valuable research data. Recognizing the value of these partnerships, the University of North Carolina (UNC) formed a partnership with Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) in Lilongwe, Malawi.

The Department of Neurosurgery joined the partnership with KCH and designed a Head Trauma Surveillance Registry. The success of this registry depended on the development of methods to accurately collect head injury data at KCH. Since medical record documentation is often unreliable in this setting, data collection teams were implemented to capture data from head trauma patients on a 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week basis. As data collection improved, pilot groups tested methods to collect new variables and the registry expanded. UNC provided onsite and remote oversight to strengthen the accuracy of the data.

Data accuracy still remains a hurdle in global research. Data collection teams, oversight from UNC, pilot group testing, and meaningful collaboration with local physicians improved the accuracy of the head trauma registry. Overall, these methods helped create a more accurate epidemiological and outcomes-centered analysis of brain injury patients at KCH to date.

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Weston Northam, Kristi Hildebrand, Scott Elton and Carolyn Quinsey

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Trista Reid, Joanna Grudziak, Nidia Rodriguez-Ormaza, Rebecca G. Maine, Nelson Msiska, Carolyn Quinsey and Anthony Charles

OBJECTIVE

Hydrocephalus is the most common pediatric neurosurgical condition, with a high prevalence in low- and middle-income countries. Untreated, hydrocephalus leads to neurological disability or death. The epidemiology and outcomes of hydrocephalus treated by ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunts in Sub-Saharan Africa are not well defined and vary by region. The aim of the present study was to examine the mortality and morbidity rates and predictors of mortality in children treated by VP shunt placement for hydrocephalus at Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe, Malawi.

METHODS

This is a prospective study of 100 consecutive children presenting with hydrocephalus who were treated with VP shunt placement from January 2015 to August 2017. Demographics, nutritional status, maternal characteristics, developmental delay, shunt complications, readmissions, and in-hospital and 3-month mortality data were collected. Multivariate logistic regression was used to identify predictors of death within 3 months of surgery.

RESULTS

Overall, 46% of participants were female, with an average age of 5.4 ± 3.7 months at the time of surgery. The majority of patients were term deliveries (87.8%) and were not malnourished (72.9%). Only 10.8% of children were diagnosed with meningitis before admission. In-hospital and 3-month mortality rates were 5.5% and 32.1%, respectively. The only significant association with mortality was maternal age, with older maternal age demonstrating decreased odds of 3-month mortality (OR 0.9, 95% CI 0.8–1.0, p = 0.045).

CONCLUSIONS

Surgical management of hydrocephalus with VP shunts portends a high mortality rate in Malawi. The association of younger maternal age with mortality is likely a proxy for social determinants, which appear to contribute as much to mortality as patient factors. VP shunting is inadequate as a sole surgical management of hydrocephalus in resource-limited settings.