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Olivier Klein and Dominic Thompson

✓The authors present the case of a 3-month-old girl who presented with lipomyelomeningocele (LMM) associated with a low-lying conus and a terminal syrinx. At the time of presentation, the girl had a mild neurological, but congenital, deficit: weakness of the right foot and calf as well as absence of the right ankle reflex. Bladder assessment was normal, and it was decided to monitor this child closely, without performing surgery. Results of further magnetic resonance imaging performed 1 year after diagnosis and when the girl was 28 months old, showed a significant regression of LMM and associated syrinx. Interestingly, the child remained neurologically unchanged. Although described in the literature, spontaneous regression of LMM is a very unusual situation, and very few cases have been reported. This case represents the first report of concomitant regression of an associated syrinx. Close follow-up of nonsurgically treated children is mandatory, as the risk of late deterioration remains.

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Martin M. Tisdall, Richard D. Hayward and Dominic N. P. Thompson

OBJECT

A dermal sinus tract is a common form of occult spinal dysraphism. The presumed etiology relates to a focal failure of disjunction resulting in a persistent adhesion between the neural and cutaneous ectoderm. Clinical and radiological features can appear innocuous, leading to delayed diagnosis and failure to appreciate the implications or extent of the abnormality. If it is left untreated, complications can include meningitis, spinal abscess, and inclusion cyst formation. The authors present their experience in 74 pediatric cases of spinal dermal tract in an attempt to identify which clinical and radiological factors are associated with an infective presentation and to assess the reliability of MRI in evaluating this entity.

METHODS

Consecutive cases of spinal dermal tract treated with resection between 1998 and 2010 were identified from the departmental surgical database. Demographics, clinical history, and radiological and operative findings were collected from the patient records. The presence or absence of active infection (abscess, meningitis) at the time of neurosurgical presentation and any history of local sinus discharge or infection was assessed. Magnetic resonance images were reviewed to evaluate the extent of the sinus tract and determine the presence of an inclusion cyst. Radiological and operative findings were compared.

RESULTS

The surgical course was uncomplicated in 90% of 74 cases eligible for analysis. Magnetic resonance imaging underreported the presence of both an intradural tract (MRI 46%, operative finding 86%) and an intraspinal inclusion cyst (MRI 15%, operative finding 24%). A history of sinus discharge (OR 12.8, p = 0.0003) and the intraoperative identification of intraspinal inclusion cysts (OR 5.6, p = 0.023) were associated with an infective presentation. There was no significant association between the presence of an intradural tract discovered at surgery and an infective presentation.

CONCLUSIONS

Surgery for the treatment of spinal dermal tract carries a low morbidity. While it seems intuitive that tracts without intradural extension carry a low risk of spinal cord tethering, it is not possible to reliably detect these cases using MRI. Similarly, intraspinal dermoid cannot be reliably excluded using MRI and carries an increased risk of infection. These points justify excision together with intradural exploration of all spinal dermal sinus tracts.

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Juan F. Martínez-Lage

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Dora Steel, Matthew A. Kirkman, Dominic N. P. Thompson and Kristian Aquilina

Open anterolateral cordotomy is an effective treatment option for adults with intractable pain, but it has seldom been attempted in children. In the 2 previously reported cases in children, the procedure was used within 10 days of death from neoplastic disease. In this paper the authors describe 2 cases in which open cordotomy was used successfully in children outside the immediate terminal phase of disease. Both patients experienced effective analgesia with minimal adverse effects. The authors propose that consideration of cordotomy as an option for the management of intractable pain in children does not need to be delayed until death is imminent.

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Michael D. Cearns, Samantha Hettige, Paolo De Coppi and Dominic N. P. Thompson

OBJECTIVE

It is well established that Currarino syndrome (CS) may be associated with spinal dysraphism. Here, the authors report on 10 CS patients with dysraphic anomalies who had undergone a combined neurosurgical and general surgical approach to repair the dysraphic anomalies and resect the presacral mass in a single operation. They discuss the spectrum of spinal dysraphism that may coexist in CS in the context of its developmental etiology.

METHODS

Children with a confirmed CS diagnosis who had undergone the combined operative approach were identified from a departmental database. Presenting features were recorded and preoperative imaging was analyzed to record features of the presacral mass and the dysraphic anomalies. The histopathological nature of the resected presacral mass and the outcomes postoperatively and at the last follow-up were reviewed.

RESULTS

Between 2008 and 2015, 10 patients presented with CS, 9 with constipation. Median age at the time of surgery was 1.3 years. Six of the 10 patients had anorectal malformation consisting of anal stenosis, rectal stenosis, or imperforate anus. Spinal anomalies included anterior meningocele (5 cases), low-lying conus (8), terminal syrinx (4), fatty filum (5), caudal lipoma (3), and intraspinal cyst (1). In all cases, the lumbosacral spinal canal was accessed via a midline approach with laminoplasty, allowing spinal cord untethering and repair of the dysraphic anomalies. Following dural closure, the incision was extended inferiorly to incorporate a posterior sagittal approach to resect the presacral mass. The histopathological nature of the mass was mature teratoma (8 cases), complex hamartomatous malformation (1), or neurenteric cyst (1). There were no new instances of neurological deterioration, with most instances of persisting morbidity related to constipation (6 cases) or neurogenic bladder dysfunction (8). There were no infective complications, no instances of cerebrospinal fluid fistula, no recurrences of the presacral mass, and no cases of retethering of the spinal cord.

CONCLUSIONS

Although not part of the original triad, spinal dysraphic anomalies are common in CS and in keeping with a disorder of secondary neurulation. Lumbosacral MRI is an essential investigation when CS is suspected. Children are at risk of sphincter impairment due to the anorectal malformation; however, both spinal cord tethering and compression from the presacral mass may further compromise long-term continence. A combined operative approach to repair the dysraphic anomalies and resect the presacral mass is described with good postoperative and long-term outcomes.

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Dominic N. P. Thompson, Richard D. Hayward, William J. Harkness, Robert M. Bingham and Barry M. Jones

✓ The authors describe the clinical, radiological, and postmortem findings of a case of cloverleaf skull syndrome. The presence of hindbrain herniation, abnormal cervical segmentation, and atlantoaxial subluxation illustrate the anatomical complexity of the skull base and the craniocervical junction that may coexist in this condition. Unavoidable division of occipital emissary veins during elevation of the skin flap at the time of vault remodeling surgery led to an acute and, ultimately, fatal rise in intracranial pressure. Postmortem examination and review of magnetic resonance imaging revealed an anomalous pattern of venous drainage of the intracranial structures that appeared to have developed in response to venous obstruction, secondary to intraosseous venous sinuses and stenosis of the jugular foramina.

The relationship between venous hypertension, hindbrain herniation, and hydrocephalus in this situation is reviewed, and the implications for evaluation and management of this vexing disorder are discussed.

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Dominic N. P. Thompson, Adrian T. Casey, Richard D. Hayward and William F. Harkness

✓ A combined radiological and surgical technique that permits identification of appropriate recipient vessels and accurate placement of the atrial catheter in ventriculoatrial shunts is described. The procedure uses readily available radiological skills and reduces operation time and morbidity related to malpositioning of the distal catheter.

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R. Michael Scott