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Robert P. Naftel, Emily Tubergen, Chevis N. Shannon, Kimberly A. Gran, E. Haley Vance, W. Jerry Oakes, Jeffrey P. Blount and John C. Wellons III


Because there is no gold standard for preoperative diagnosis of shunt failure, understanding the sensitivity, specificity, and predictive values of symptoms, signs, and diagnostic tests enables practitioners to make logical clinical decisions. Parents of children with shunts undergo educational instruction to enable them to recognize shunt failure. The authors prospectively investigated parental ability to recognize shunt failure.


Data were prospectively collected on 205 consecutive encounters in 153 children with shunted hydrocephalus presenting to the emergency department or clinic, or as an inpatient consultation, to the Children's Hospital of Alabama between April and October 2010. Regardless of the complaint, all parents were asked if they believed the shunt was in failure. Six children were excluded from analysis because a parental response was lacking. Using the Shunt Design Trial definitions, shunt failure was diagnosed intraoperatively or ruled out if the child did not undergo shunt revision within 1 week of presentation. Sensitivity, specificity, predictive values, and accuracy were calculated using the parental response and shunt failure diagnosis. Secondarily, parents were compared based on their experience with shunt failure in their children; experienced parents were defined as having experienced at least 3 shunt failures. Post hoc analysis evaluated diagnostic test characteristics among hydrocephalus causes and compared parental recognition of shunt failure to head CT and shunt series diagnostic test characteristics. Parents also completed a standardized shunt failure survey regarding their shunt teaching education and symptom tracking.


Children enrolled were a mean age of 6.9 years old, 92 (46%) of the encounters were with male patients, and most patients were Caucasian (69%) and had undergone an average of 2.8 previous shunt revisions. Seventy-one children (36%) were diagnosed with shunt failure. Parental response diagnostic test characteristics were: positive predictive value (PPV) of 41%, negative predictive value (NPV) of 79%, sensitivity of 83%, specificity of 34%, and accuracy of 52% for shunt failure. Sixty-three parents were considered experienced and responded with a PPV of 29%, NPV of 92%, sensitivity of 94%, specificity of 23%, and accuracy of 41%. One hundred thirty-six parents were considered inexperienced and responded with a PPV of 48%, NPV of 75%, sensitivity of 80%, specificity of 41%, and accuracy of 57%. When statistically compared, experienced parents had significantly lower PPV (29% vs 48%, respectively; p = 0.035) and accuracy (41% vs 57%, respectively; p = 0.049) than inexperienced parents. On post hoc analysis, parental recognition of shunt failure was inferior to head CT and shunt series diagnostic tests with a lower specificity (20% vs 88%, respectively; p < 0.0005), PPV (44% vs 84%, respectively; p < 0.0005), NPV (61% vs 85%, respectively; p = 0.006), and accuracy (47% vs. 85%, respectively; p < 0.0005).


The overall parental response had the greatest value in ruling out shunt failure, reflected in the high NPV, particularly in experienced parents. The head CT and shunt series provide more favorable diagnostic test characteristics than the parental response. Although educational interventions have decreased shunt-related deaths, parents have difficulty differentiating shunt failure from alternative diagnoses.

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Sara Anne Wilkins, Chevis N. Shannon, Steven T. Brown, E. Haley Vance, Drew Ferguson, Kimberly Gran, Marshall Crowther, John C. Wellons III and James M. Johnston Jr.


Recent legislation and media coverage have heightened awareness of concussion in youth sports. Previous work by the authors' group defined significant variation of care in management of children with concussion. To address this variation, a multidisciplinary concussion program was established based on a uniform management protocol, with emphasis on community outreach via traditional media sources and the Internet. This retrospective study evaluates the impact of standardization of concussion care and resource utilization before and after standardization in a large regional pediatric hospital center.


This retrospective study included all patients younger than 18 years of age evaluated for sports-related concussion between January 1, 2007, and December 31, 2011. Emergency department, sports medicine, and neurosurgery records were reviewed. Data collected included demographics, injury details, clinical course, Sports Concussion Assessment Tool-2 (SCAT2) scores, imaging, discharge instructions, and referral for specialty care. The cohort was analyzed comparing patients evaluated before and after standardization of care.


Five hundred eighty-nine patients were identified, including 270 before standardization (2007–2011) and 319 after standardization (2011–2012). Statistically significant differences (p < 0.0001) were observed between the 2 groups for multiple variables: there were more girls, more first-time concussions, fewer initial presentations to the emergency department, more consistent administration of the SCAT2, and more consistent supervision of return to play and return to think after adoption of the protocol.


A combination of increased public awareness and legislation has led to a 5-fold increase in the number of youth athletes presenting for concussion evaluation at the authors' center. Establishment of a multidisciplinary clinic with a standardized protocol resulted in significantly decreased institutional resource utilization and more consistent concussion care for this growing patient population.

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Campbell Liles, Jonathan Dallas, Andrew T. Hale, Stephen Gannon, E. Haley Vance, Christopher M. Bonfield and Chevis N. Shannon


Open and endoscope-assisted repair are surgical options for sagittal craniosynostosis, with limited research evaluating each technique’s immediate and long-term costs. This study investigates the cost-effectiveness of open and endoscope-assisted repair for single, sagittal suture craniosynostosis.


The authors performed a retrospective cohort study of patients undergoing single, sagittal suture craniosynostosis repair (open in 17 cases, endoscope-assisted in 16) at less than 1 year of age at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt (MCJCHV) between August 2015 and August 2017. Follow-up data were collected/analyzed for 1 year after discharge. Surgical and follow-up costs were derived by merging MCJCHV financial data with each patient’s electronic medical record (EMR) and were adjusted for inflation using the healthcare Producer Price Index. Proxy helmet costs were derived from third-party out-of-pocket helmet prices. To account for variable costs and probabilities, overall costs were calculated using TreeAge tree diagram software.


Open repair occurred in older patients (mean age 5.69 vs 2.96 months, p < 0.001) and required more operating room time (median 203 vs 145 minutes, p < 0.001), more ICU days (median 3 vs 1 day, p < 0.001), more hospital days (median 4 vs 1 day, p < 0.001), and more frequently required transfusion (88% vs 6% of cases). Compared to patients who underwent open surgery, patients who underwent endoscopically assisted surgery more often required postoperative orthotic helmets (100% vs 6%), had a similar number of follow-up clinic visits (median 3 vs 3 visits, p = 0.487) and CT scans (median 3 vs 2 scans), and fewer emergency department visits (median 1 vs 3 visits). The TreeAge diagram showed that, overall, open repair was 73% more expensive than endoscope-assisted repair ($31,314.10 vs $18,081.47). Sensitivity analysis identified surgical/hospital costs for open repair (mean $30,475, SEM $547) versus endoscope-assisted repair (mean $13,746, SEM $833) (p < 0.001) as the most important determinants of overall cost. Two-way sensitivity analysis comparing initial surgical/hospital costs confirmed that open repair remains significantly more expensive under even worst-case initial repair scenarios ($3254.81 minimum difference). No major surgical complications or surgical revisions occurred in either cohort.


The results of this study suggest that endoscope-assisted craniosynostosis repair is significantly more cost-effective than open repair, based on markedly lower costs and similar outcomes, and that the difference in initial surgical/hospital costs far outweighs the difference in subsequent costs associated with helmet therapy and outpatient management, although independent replication in a multicenter study is needed for confirmation due to practice and cost variation across institutions. Longer-term results will also be needed to examine whether cost differences are maintained.