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Daniel H. Fulkerson and Joel C. Boaz

Object

Eosinophils have been reported in children with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) shunts. The goal of this study was to describe the risk factors, relationship to infection, and clinical significance of CSF eosinophilia in a large group of shunt-treated patients.

Methods

The authors performed a retrospective review of data obtained in all patients who underwent ventricular shunt placement or revision at the James Whitcomb Riley Hospital for Children between 2000 and 2004.

Results

Eosinophils were identified during a follow-up shunt evaluation in 93 (31%) of 300 patients after initial shunt placement. Eosinophilia was statistically related to CSF extravasation (p < 0.0001), shunt infection (p = 0.031), blood in CSF (p < 0.0001), younger age at shunt insertion (p = 0.030), and the diagnosis of posthemorrhagic hydrocephalus (p < 0.0001). Patients with CSF eosinophilia had a higher risk of subsequent shunt failure (p < 0.0001).

Analysis was performed using data obtained in a cohort of patients with a total of 130 shunt infections. Cerebrospinal fluid eosinophils were identified in 118 infections (90.8%). The leukocytic and eosinophilic reactions were dependent on the infecting organism. Propionibacterium acnes had a statistically lower CSF leukocyte count but higher differential percentage of eosinophils than the other common pathogens.

Conclusions

Cerebrospinal fluid eosinophilia is a relatively common finding in children with shunts. Patients with CSF eosinophilia had an increased risk of shunt malfunction in the present series. Eosinophilia is associated with infection, CSF extravasation, and blood in the CSF. Patients with P. acnes–induced shunt infections have higher eosinophil percentages than are found in infections associated with other common organisms. Therefore, in patients with eosinophilia, extended anaerobic culture studies should be performed with particular attention paid to searching for this pathogen.

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Shaheryar F. Ansari, Richard B. Rodgers and Daniel H. Fulkerson

Congenital scoliosis from laterally located hemivertebrae at the lumbosacral junction has been described previously. However, dorsally located midline hemivertebrae at this location have not been reported. The authors describe the presentation, treatment, and outcomes of 2 patients (1 male and 1 female) with this rare malformation. All clinical and radiographic records were reviewed. Outcomes were recorded using survey instruments (Oswestry Disability Index and the 36-Item Short Form Health Survey). Radiographic assessment of bony fusion was performed using CT scanning 1 year after surgery.

Both patients presented with back and leg pain, urinary hesitancy/incontinence, difficulty sitting and lying down, waddling gait, and restriction of movement. Imaging showed a wedge-shaped dorsal deformity that stretched the nerve roots and compressed the canal. Both patients underwent resection of the hemivertebra with posterolateral instrumented fusion from L-2 to the pelvis. The female patient had a low-lying conus and underwent sectioning of the filum terminale. Both patients showed improvement in the ability to sit and lie flat and in bowel and bladder function after surgery. The authors describe their experience with 2 patients with similar, rare congenital bony deformities at the lumbosacral junction. To their knowledge, similar cases have not been previously reported.

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Kimberly M. Hamilton, Andrea L. Wiens and Daniel H. Fulkerson

Encephaloceles are acquired or congenital defects in which intracranial contents protrude through a defect in the calvaria. The embryogenesis of these lesions is incompletely understood. The vast majority of lesions occur at or near the anatomical midline. The authors present an extremely rare case of a laterally oriented, pathologically proven encephalocele associated with a posterior fossa cyst and cerebellar migrational defect in an infant. The authors review past and current theories of encephalocele formation as it relates to this case.

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Shaheryar F. Ansari, Reilin J. Moore, Joel C. Boaz and Daniel H. Fulkerson

OBJECT

Radioactive phosphorus-32 (P32) has been used as brachytherapy for craniopharyngiomas with the hope of providing local control of enlarging tumor cysts. Brachytherapy has commonly been used as an adjunct to the standard treatment of surgery and external-beam radiation (EBR). Historically, multimodal treatment, including EBR, has shown tumor control rates as high as 70% at 10 years after treatment. However, EBR is associated with significant long-term risks, including visual deficits, endocrine dysfunction, and cognitive decline. Theoretically, brachytherapy may provide focused local radiation that controls or shrinks a symptomatic cyst without exposing the patient to the risks of EBR. For this study, the authors reviewed their experiences with craniopharyngioma patients treated with P32 brachytherapy as the primary treatment without EBR. The authors reviewed these patients' records to evaluate whether this strategy effectively controls tumor growth, thus avoiding the need for further surgery or EBR.

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective review of pediatric patients treated for craniopharyngioma between 1997 and 2004. This was the time period during which the authors' institution had a relatively high use of P32 for treatment of cystic craniopharyngioma. All patients who had surgery and injection of P32 without EBR were identified. The patient records were analyzed for complications, cyst control, need for further surgery, and need for future EBR.

RESULTS

Thirty-eight patients were treated for craniopharyngioma during the study period. Nine patients (23.7%) were identified who had surgery (resection or biopsy) with P32 brachytherapy but without initial EBR. These 9 patients represented the study group. For 1 patient (11.1%), there was a complication with the brachytherapy procedure. Five patients (55.5%) required subsequent surgery. Seven patients (77.7%) required subsequent EBR for tumor growth. The mean time between the injection of P32 and subsequent treatment was 1.67 ± 1.50 years (mean ± SD).

CONCLUSIONS

In this small but focused population, P32 treatment provided limited local control for cyst growth. Brachytherapy alone did not reliably avert the need for subsequent surgery or EBR.

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Ian K. White, Ecaterina Pestereva, Kashif A. Shaikh and Daniel H. Fulkerson

OBJECTIVE

Children with skull fractures are often transferred to hospitals with pediatric neurosurgical capabilities. Historical data suggest that a small percentage of patients with an isolated skull fracture will clinically decline. However, recent papers have suggested that the risk of decline in certain patients is low. There are few data regarding the financial costs associated with transporting patients at low risk for requiring specialty care. In this study, the clinical outcomes and financial costs of transferring of a population of children with isolated skull fractures to a Level 1 pediatric trauma center over a 9-year period were analyzed.

METHODS

A retrospective review of all children treated for head injury at Riley Hospital for Children (Indianapolis, Indiana) between 2005 and 2013 was performed. Patients with a skull fracture were identified based on ICD-9 codes. Patients with intracranial hematoma, brain parenchymal injury, or multisystem trauma were excluded. Children transferred to Riley Hospital from an outside facility were identified. The clinical and radiographic outcomes were recorded. A cost analysis was performed on patients who were transferred with an isolated, linear, nondisplaced skull fracture.

RESULTS

Between 2005 and 2013, a total of 619 pediatric patients with isolated skull fractures were transferred. Of these, 438 (70.8%) patients had a linear, nondisplaced skull fracture. Of these 438 patients, 399 (91.1%) were transferred by ambulance and 39 (8.9%) by helicopter. Based on the current ambulance and helicopter fees, a total of $1,834,727 (an average of $4188.90 per patient) was spent on transfer fees alone. No patient required neurosurgical intervention. All patients recovered with symptomatic treatment; no patient suffered late decline or epilepsy.

CONCLUSIONS

This study found that nearly $2 million was spent solely on transfer fees for 438 pediatric patients with isolated linear skull fractures over a 9-year period. All patients in this study had good clinical outcomes, and none required neurosurgical intervention. Based on these findings, the authors suggest that, in the absence of abuse, most children with isolated, linear, nondisplaced skull fractures do not require transfer to a Level 1 pediatric trauma center. The authors suggest ideas for further study to refine the protocols for determining which patients require transport.

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Qiguang Wang, Xuhui Hui, Qiang Li and Yan Ju

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Daniel H. Fulkerson, Steven W. Hwang, Akash J. Patel and Andrew Jea

External orthosis is the accepted and historical management of odontoid synchondrosis fractures; however, this conservative therapy carries a significant complication and fracture nonunion rate among young children. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the authors' own experience in the context of the literature, to explore surgical fixation as a primary treatment for unstable fractures. The authors retrospectively reviewed 2 cases of unstable odontoid synchondrosis fractures treated at their institution; both showed radiographic progression of deformity and subsequently underwent an open surgical reduction and fusion. A literature review was conducted to compare the authors' management strategy with those in published data. External orthosis for treatment of odontoid synchondrosis fractures has a strong history of success. However, in the literature, patients treated with a halo orthosis had a 43.3% rate of complications and an 11.4% risk of nonunion. There are radiographic findings that suggest instability, such as severe angulation and displacement of the odontoid process. Both patients in the present report underwent successful fusion without complication, as documented on CT scans obtained 3 months after surgery. Given the high rate of fusion attained with conservative therapy, it is recommended for most synchondrosis fractures. However, there is a recognized subgroup of synchondrosis fractures with severe angulation (> 30°) and displacement suggestive of significant ligamentous injury. In these patients, surgical fixation may be a safe and efficacious alternative to halo orthosis as the primary treatment.

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Wei X. Huff, José M. Bonnin and Daniel H. Fulkerson

Von Hippel-Lindau disease (VHLD) is characterized by a spectrum of benign and malignant tumors in the CNS and visceral organs. Rathke's cleft cysts are benign, nonneoplastic sellar lesions that are often asymptomatic. The authors report the case of twin sisters with VHLD Type 2C with radiographically similar sellar lesions. One twin required surgery for progressive visual loss. Pathological examination of resected tissue demonstrated Rathke's cleft cyst.

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Timothy J. Kovanda, Shaheryar F. Ansari, Rabia Qaiser and Daniel H. Fulkerson

OBJECT

Rigid screw fixation may be technically difficult in the upper cervical spine of young children. Intraoperative stereotactic navigation may potentially assist a surgeon in precise placement of screws in anatomically challenging locations. Navigation may also assist in defining abnormal anatomy. The object of this study was to evaluate the authors’ initial experience with the feasibility and accuracy of this technique, both for resection and for screw placement in the upper cervical spine in younger children.

METHODS

Eight consecutive pediatric patients 10 years of age or younger underwent upper cervical spine surgery aided by image-guided navigation. The demographic, surgical, and clinical data were recorded. Screw position was evaluated with either an intraoperative or immediately postoperative CT scan.

RESULTS

One patient underwent navigation purely for guidance of bony resection. A total of 14 navigated screws were placed in the other 7 patients, including 5 C-2 pedicle screws. All 14 screws were properly positioned, defined as the screw completely contained within the cortical bone in the expected trajectory. There were no immediate complications associated with navigation.

CONCLUSIONS

Image-guided navigation is feasible within the pediatric cervical spine and may be a useful surgical tool for placing screws in a patient with small, often difficult bony anatomy. The authors describe their experience with their first 8 pediatric patients who underwent navigation in cervical spine surgery. The authors highlight differences in technique compared with similar navigation in adults.