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Editorial: Do skull fractures matter?

Ann-Christine Duhaime

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Beyond the game: the legacy of Bill Masterton

Christopher M. Bonfield and Douglas Kondziolka

Bill Masterton is the only man to die of injuries sustained in a National Hockey League (NHL) game. He remains the last fatality in any professional team sport involving a direct in-game injury in North America. While Masterton was originally thought to have suffered a fatal brain injury while being checked on the ice, later analysis of the case revealed evidence of second-impact syndrome and the effects of prior concussions. Masterton's death sparked both an immediate debate in the NHL on whether helmets should be compulsory and the NHL's first vote on mandatory helmet use. Although the subject of mandated helmet use met with resistance in the 10 years after Masterton's death, especially from hockey owners and coaches, the NHL finally legislated helmet use by all players entering the league beginning in the 1979–1980 season.

Several awards, including one recognizing the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey, have been created in memory of Masterton. However, his legacy extends far beyond the awards that bear his name. His death was the seminal event bringing head safety to the forefront of a game that was both unready and unwilling to accept change. An increase in mainstream media attention in recent years has led to unprecedented public awareness of brain injury and concussion in hockey and other sports. Advances in the diagnosis and treatment of head injury in sports have occurred recently, the impetus for which started over 45 years ago, when Bill Masterton died.

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The impact of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder on recovery from mild traumatic brain injury

Clinical article

Christopher M. Bonfield, Sandi Lam, Yimo Lin, and Stephanie Greene

Object

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) are significant independent public health concerns in the pediatric population. This study explores the impact of a premorbid diagnosis of ADHD on outcome following mild TBI.

Methods

The charts of all patients with a diagnosis of mild closed head injury (CHI) and ADHD who were admitted to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh between January 2003 and December 2010 were retrospectively reviewed after institutional review board approval was granted. Patient demographics, initial Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score, hospital course, and King's Outcome Scale for Childhood Head Injury (KOSCHI) score were recorded. The results were compared with a sample of age-matched controls admitted with a diagnosis of CHI without ADHD.

Results

Forty-eight patients with mild CHI and ADHD, and 45 patients with mild CHI without ADHD were included in the statistical analysis. Mild TBI due to CHI was defined as an initial GCS score of 13–15. The ADHD group had a mean age of 12.2 years (range 6–17 years), and the control group had a mean age of 11.14 years (range 5–16 years). For patients with mild TBI who had ADHD, 25% were moderately disabled (KOSCHI Score 4b), and 56% had completely recovered (KOSCHI Score 5b) at follow-up. For patients with mild TBI without ADHD, 2% were moderately disabled and 84% had completely recovered at follow-up (p < 0.01). Patients with ADHD were statistically significantly more disabled after mild TBI than were control patients without ADHD, even when controlling for age, sex, initial GCS score, hospital length of stay, length of follow-up, mechanism of injury, and presence of other (extracranial) injury.

Conclusions

Patients who sustain mild TBIs in the setting of a premorbid diagnosis of ADHD are more likely to be moderately disabled by the injury than are patients without ADHD.

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The history of military cranioplasty

Christopher M. Bonfield, Anand R. Kumar, and Peter C. Gerszten

There is evidence that the neurosurgical procedure of cranioplasty is as ancient as its better-known counterpart, trephination. With origins in pre-Incan Peru, cranioplasty remains an important reconstructive procedure for modern craniofacial surgery teams to master. Solutions to the often challenging problem of repairing skull defects continue to evolve to improve patient outcomes. Throughout recorded history, advances in cranioplasty have paralleled major military conflicts due to survivorship after trephination or decompressive craniectomy. Primitive skull coverings used in Peru were later replaced during the Middle Ages by grafts obtained in animals and humans. Improved survivorship secondary to advances in anesthesia and battlefield medicine during the Crimean War and the American Civil War allowed the use of tantalum and acrylic cranioplasty to evolve during World Wars I and II. In the modern era of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, greater survivorship after cranial injury due to improvements in protective armor, medical evacuation, and early “far-forward” neurosurgical treatment have occurred. Consequently, the last decade has seen great advancement in cranial defect reconstruction, including custom-fabricated alloplast implants and the emergence of regenerative cranial treatments such as distraction osteogenesis, protected bone regeneration, and free tissue transfers. Comprehensive rehabilitation after neurotrauma has emerged as the new standard of care.

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Neurosurgical management of cervicomedullary compression, spinal stenosis, and hydrocephalus in pediatric achondroplasia: a systematic review

Oluwatoyin Akinnusotu, Albert M. Isaacs, Michelle Stone, and Christopher M. Bonfield

OBJECTIVE

Pediatric achondroplasia is often associated with conditions requiring neurosurgical intervention, including CSF diversion and multilevel spinal decompression. However, there is a lack of clinical guidelines and reliable estimates of the benefits and risks of these interventions. This study aimed to summarize the literature on the neurosurgical management of pediatric achondroplasia patients in order to aid in determining optimal treatment and standardization of care.

METHODS

A systematic review of peer-reviewed studies with an objective diagnosis of achondroplasia, patient demographic information, and available data on neurosurgical interventions performed before 18 years of age for cervicomedullary compression, spinal stenosis, and hydrocephalus was performed. Study quality and risks of bias were assessed using standardized scores. Independent patient data on surgical indications, outcomes, reoperations, and complication risks were aggregated using means and percentages.

RESULTS

Of 204 records, 25 studies with 287 pediatric achondroplasia patients (mean age 25 ± 36 months) treated for cervicomedullary compression (n = 153), spinal stenosis (n = 100), and obstructive hydrocephalus (n = 34) were evaluated. Symptomatic cervicomedullary compression occurred early in life (mean age 31 ± 25 months), with apnea (48%), T2-weighted MRI cord signal (28%), myelopathy (27%), and delayed motor skills (15%) requiring foramen magnum decompression observed in 99% of patients, as well as cervical laminectomy in 65% of patients. Although 91% of treated patients had resolution of symptoms, 2% mortality, 9% reoperation, and 21% complication rates were reported. Spinal stenosis was treated in relatively older children (mean age 13 ± 3 years) with laminectomy (23%), as well as with instrumented fusion (73%) for neurogenic claudication (59%), back pain (15%), and sciatica (8%). Although 95% of patients had symptom resolution after surgery, 17% reported complications and 18% required reoperation. Of the hydrocephalus patients (mean age 56 ± 103 months), half were treated with endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) and half had a shunt placed for progressive ventriculomegaly (66%), headaches (32%), and delayed cognitive development (4%). The shunted patients had a 3% mortality rate and an average of 1.5 shunt revisions per patient. None of the patients who underwent ETV as the primary procedure required a revision.

CONCLUSIONS

Neurosurgical intervention for pediatric achondroplasia conditions, including cervicomedullary compression, spinal stenosis, and hydrocephalus, is associated with high recovery rates and good outcomes. However, complications and reoperations are common. Further studies with follow-up into adulthood are needed to evaluate the long-term outcomes.

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Preoperative ultrasound localization of the lambda in patients with scaphocephaly: a technical note for minimally invasive craniectomy

Christopher M. Bonfield, D. Douglas Cochrane, Ash Singhal, and Paul Steinbok

Sagittal craniosynostosis, the most common single suture craniosynostosis, is treated by numerous surgical techniques. Minimally invasive endoscopy-assisted procedures with postoperative helmeting are being used with reports of good cosmetic outcomes with decreased morbidity, shortened hospital stay, and less blood loss and transfusion. This procedure uses small skin incisions, which must be properly placed to provide safe access to the posterior sagittal and lambdoid sutures. However, the lambda is often hard to palpate through the skin due to the abnormal head shape. The authors describe their experience with the use of intraoperative, preincision ultrasound localization of the lambda in patients with scaphocephaly undergoing a minimally invasive procedure. This simple technique can also be applied to other operations where proper identification of the cranial sutures is necessary.

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Intracystic interferon-α treatment leads to neurotoxicity in craniopharyngioma: case report

Julia Sharma, Christopher M. Bonfield, Ash Singhal, Juliette Hukin, and Paul Steinbok

Craniopharyngioma is a benign, cystic suprasellar tumor that can be treated with intracystic chemotherapy. Interferon-α (IFN-α) has been gaining popularity as an intracystic treatment for craniopharyngioma because of its efficacy and supposed benign neurotoxicity profile. In this case report the authors describe a patient who, while receiving intracystic IFN-α, suffered a neurological event, which was believed to be related to drug leakage outside the cyst. This is the first report of a focal neurological deficit potentially attributable to intracystic IFN-α therapy, highlighting the fact that IFN-α may have neurotoxic effects on the central nervous system. Given this case and the results of a literature review, the authors suggest that a positive leak test is a relative contraindication to intracystic IFN-α treatment.

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Medical photography with a mobile phone: useful techniques, and what neurosurgeons need to know about HIPAA compliance

Rebecca A. Reynolds, Lawrence B. Stack, and Christopher M. Bonfield

Medical photographs are commonly employed to enhance education, research, and patient care throughout the neurosurgical discipline. Current mobile phone camera technology enables surgeons to quickly capture, document, and share a patient scenario with colleagues. Research demonstrates that patients generally view clinical photography favorably, and the practice has become an integral part of healthcare. Neurosurgeons in satellite locations often rely on residents to send photographs of diagnostic imaging studies, neurological examination findings, and postoperative wounds. Images are also frequently obtained for research purposes, teaching and learning operative techniques, lectures and presentations, comparing preoperative and postoperative outcomes, and patient education. However, image quality and technique are highly variable. Capturing and sharing photographs must be accompanied by an awareness of the legal ramifications of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). HIPAA compliance is straightforward when one is empowered with the knowledge of what constitutes a patient identifier in a photograph. Little has been published to describe means of improving the accuracy and educational value of medical photographs in neurosurgery. Therefore, in this paper, the authors present a brief discussion regarding four easily implemented photography skills every surgeon who uses his or her mobile phone for patient care should know: 1) provide context, 2) use appropriate lighting, 3) use appropriate dimensionality, and 4) manage distracting elements. Details of the HIPAA-related components of mobile phone photographs and patient-protected health information are also included.

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The effect of hospital characteristics on pediatric neuromuscular scoliosis fusion cost

Jonathan Dallas, Chevis N. Shannon, and Christopher M. Bonfield

OBJECTIVE

Spinal fusion is used in the treatment of pediatric neuromuscular scoliosis (NMS) to improve spine alignment and delay disease progression. However, patients with NMS are often medically complex and require a higher level of care than those with other types of scoliosis, leading to higher treatment costs. The purpose of this study was to 1) characterize the cost of pediatric NMS fusion in the US and 2) determine hospital characteristics associated with changes in overall cost.

METHODS

Patients were identified from the National Inpatient Sample (2012 to the first 3 quarters of 2015). Inclusion criteria selected for patients with NMS, spinal fusion of at least 4 vertebral levels, and elective hospitalization. Patients with no cost information were excluded. Sociodemographics, treating hospital characteristics, disease etiology/severity, comorbidities, length of stay, and hospital costs were collected. Univariable analysis and multivariable gamma log-link regression were used to determine hospital characteristics associated with changes in cost.

RESULTS

A total of 1780 weighted patients met inclusion criteria. The median cost was $68,815. Following multivariable regression, both small (+$11,580, p < 0.001) and medium (+$6329, p < 0.001) hospitals had higher costs than large hospitals. Rural hospitals had higher costs than urban teaching hospitals (+$32,438, p < 0.001). Nonprofit hospitals were more expensive than both government (–$4518, p = 0.030) and investor-owned (–$10,240, p = 0.001) hospitals. There was significant variability by US census division; compared with the South Atlantic, all other divisions except for the Middle Atlantic had significantly higher costs, most notably the West North Central (+$15,203, p < 0.001) and the Pacific (+$22,235, p < 0.001). Hospital fusion volume was not associated with total cost.

CONCLUSIONS

A number of hospital factors were associated with changes in fusion cost. Larger hospitals may be able to achieve decreased costs due to economies of scale. Regional differences could reflect uncontrolled-for variability in underlying patient populations or systems-level and policy differences. Overall, this analysis identified multiple systemic patterns that could be targets of further cost-related interventions.

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The use of a hybrid dynamic stabilization and fusion system in the lumbar spine: preliminary experience

Matthew B. Maserati, Matthew J. Tormenti, David M. Panczykowski, Christopher M. Bonfield, and Peter C. Gerszten

Object

The authors report the use and preliminary results of a novel hybrid dynamic stabilization and fusion construct for the surgical treatment of degenerative lumbar spine pathology.

Methods

The authors performed a retrospective chart review of all patients who underwent posterior lumbar instrumentation with the Dynesys-to-Optima (DTO) hybrid dynamic stabilization and fusion system. Preoperative symptoms, visual analog scale (VAS) pain scores, perioperative complications, and the need for subsequent revision surgery were recorded. Each patient was then contacted via telephone to determine current symptoms and VAS score. Follow-up was available for 22 of 24 patients, and the follow-up period ranged from 1 to 22 months. Clinical outcome was gauged by comparing VAS scores prior to surgery and at the time of telephone interview.

Results

A total of 24 consecutive patients underwent lumbar arthrodesis surgery in which the hybrid system was used for adjacent-level dynamic stabilization. The mean preoperative VAS score was 8.8, whereas the mean postoperative VAS score was 5.3. There were five perioperative complications that included 2 durotomies and 2 wound infections. In addition, 1 patient had a symptomatic medially placed pedicle screw that required revision. These complications were not thought to be specific to the DTO system itself. In 3 patients treatment failed, with treatment failure being defined as persistent preoperative symptoms requiring reoperation.

Conclusions

The DTO system represents a novel hybrid dynamic stabilization and fusion construct. The technique holds promise as an alternative to multilevel lumbar arthrodesis while potentially decreasing the risk of adjacent-segment disease following lumbar arthrodesis. The technology is still in its infancy and therefore follow-up, when available, remains short. The authors report their preliminary experience using a hybrid system in 24 patients, along with short-interval clinical and radiographic follow-up.