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Blake C. Phillips, Michael Gelsomino, Ambre' L. Pownall, Eylem Ocal, Horace J. Spencer, Mark S. O'Brien and Gregory W. Albert


Many patients with myelomeningocele (MMC) develop hydrocephalus, and most will undergo CSF diversion. The goal of this retrospective study was to determine whether there was a change in the shunt rate over the 7 consecutive years of the study. The authors will also identify the criteria used to determine the need for shunt placement.


During a 7-year period, 73 patients underwent MMC closure at Arkansas Children's Hospital. The shunt rate for each year was calculated. Clinical characteristics were evaluated, including apneic and bradycardic spells, CSF leak, level of the MMC, head circumference, and rate of head growth. In addition, radiological images were reviewed, and the frontooccipital horn ratio (FOHR), ventricular index (VI), and thalamooccipital distance (TOD) were calculated. Comparisons were made between those patients who underwent shunt placement and those who did not.


One patient was excluded due to death in the perinatal period. Of the 72 remaining patients, 54 (75%) underwent placement of a ventriculoperitoneal shunt. This rate did not change significantly over time. Between the cohorts with and without a shunt there was no significant difference in age, sex, or race. There was no significant difference in apneic episodes or bradycardic episodes. There was a statistically significant difference in fontanelle characteristics, head circumference at birth, and rate of head growth. Patients who required CSF diversion had a mean head growth of 0.32 cm/day compared with those who did not receive a shunt (0.13 cm/day; p < 0.05). All radiological parameters were found to be statistically significant.


In this study, several classic indicators of hydrocephalus in the neonate were not found to be significantly associated with the need for CSF diversion. Fontanelle characteristics, head circumference at birth, and head growth velocity were associated with the need for shunt placement. Imaging information including the VI, TOD, and FOHR are statistically significant measures to evaluate prior to placement of a ventriculoperitoneal shunt. The optimal patient with MMC for CSF diversion will have full to tense fontanelle, increasing head circumference of more than 3 mm/day, and radiological evidence of an elevated VI, TOD, and/or FOHR.

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Erin N. Kiehna, Jeffrey P. Blount, Catherine McClung Smith, Eylem Ocal and Sandip Chatterjee

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William Fuell, Lucas Bradley, Gresham T. Richter, Noojan Kazemi, Gregory Albert, Richard McCarthy and Eylem Ocal

The authors report an unusual case of an odontoid synchondrosis fracture causing chronic translational anterior atlanto-axial subluxation and present a discussion of the unique management of this case. Traumatic translational anterior atlanto-axial subluxation is a rare manifestation within pediatrics. Patients with preexisting abnormalities in ligamentous or bony structures may present with unusual symptomatology, which could result in delay of treatment. A 6-year-old male patient with autism who presented with acute respiratory arrest was noted to have an odontoid synchondrosis fracture and severe anterior translational atlanto-axial subluxation. Initial attempts at reduction with halo traction were tried for first-line treatment. However, because of concern regarding possible inadvertent worsening of the impingement, the presence of comorbid macrocephaly, and possible instability with only C1–2 fusion, a posterior C1 laminectomy was performed. Further release of the C1–2 complex and odontoid peg from extensive fibrous tissue allowed for complete reduction. Acute injuries of the C1–2 complex may not present as expected, and the presence of pain is not a reliable symptom. Halo traction is an appropriate initial treatment, but some patients may require surgical realignment and stabilization.