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Salem El-Zuway, Forough Farrokhyar, and Edward Kachur

OBJECTIVE

Cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) is the most common cause of spinal cord dysfunction in adults. In spite of this, the impact of the changes in myelopathic signs following cervical decompression surgery and their relationship to functional outcome measures remains unclear. The main goals of our study were to prospectively assess changes in myelopathic signs with a functional outcome scale (the modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association [mJOA] scale) following cervical decompression surgery and to objectively test a proposed new myelopathy scale (MS).

METHODS

Between 2008 and 2011, 36 patients with CSM were observed following cervical decompression surgery. Patient data including mJOA and MS scores were prospectively collected and analyzed preoperatively and at 1 year after surgery.

RESULTS

In this cohort, reflex, Babinski, and proprioception signs showed statistically significant improvement following surgery at 1 year (p = < 0.001, p = 0.008, and p = 0.015, respectively). A lesser degree of improvement was observed with the Hoffman sign (p = 0.091). No statistically significant improvement in clonus occurred (p = 0.368). There was a significant improvement in mJOA (p ≤ 0.001) and MS (p ≤ 0.001) scores at 1 year compared with the preoperative scores. The results showed an inverse correlation between MS and mJOA scores both pre- and postoperatively (Spearman's correlation coefficient = −0.202 preoperatively and −0.361 postoperatively).

CONCLUSIONS

Improvement in myelopathic signs was noted following cervical decompression surgery in patients with CSM. The newly devised MS scale demonstrated these findings, and the new MS scale correlates with improvement in mJOA scores in this patient cohort.

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Christopher J. Coroneos, Sophocles H. Voineskos, Marie K. Coroneos, Noor Alolabi, Serge R. Goekjian, Lauren I. Willoughby, Forough Farrokhyar, Achilleas Thoma, James R. Bain, and Melissa C. Brouwers

OBJECT

The aim of this study was to determine the volume and timing of referrals for obstetrical brachial plexus injury (OBPI) to multidisciplinary centers in a national demographic sample. Secondarily, we aimed to measure the incidence and risk factors for OBPI in the sample. The burden of OBPI has not been investigated in a publicly funded system, and the timing and volume of referrals to multidisciplinary centers are unknown. The incidence and risk factors for OBPI have not been established in Canada.

METHODS

This is a retrospective cohort study. The authors used a demographic sample of all infants born in Canada, capturing all children born in a publicly funded, universal healthcare system. OBPI diagnoses and corresponding risk factors from 2004 to 2012 were identified and correlated with referrals to Canada’s 10 multidisciplinary OBPI centers. Quality indicators were approved by the Canadian OBPI Working Group’s guideline consensus group. The primary outcome was the timing of initial assessment at a multidisciplinary center, “good” if assessed by the time the patient was 1 month of age, “satisfactory” if by 3 months of age, and “poor” if thereafter. Joinpoint regression analysis was used to determine the OBPI incidence over the study period. Odds ratios were calculated to determine the strength of association for risk factors.

RESULTS

OBPI incidence was 1.24 per 1000 live births, and was consistent from 2004 to 2012. Potential biases underestimate the level of injury identification. The factors associated with a very strong risk for OBPI were humerus fracture, shoulder dystocia, and clavicle fracture. The majority (55%–60%) of OBPI patients identified at birth were not referred. Among those who were referred, the timing of assessment was “good” in 28%, “satisfactory” in 66%, and “poor” in 34%.

CONCLUSIONS

Shoulder dystocia was the strongest modifiable risk factor for OBPI. Most children with OBPI were not referred to multidisciplinary care. Of those who were referred, 72% were assessed later than the target quality indicator of 1 month that was established by the national guideline consensus group. A referral gap has been identified using quality indicators at clinically relevant time points; this gap should be addressed with the use of knowledge tools (e.g., a clinical practice guideline) to target variations in referral rates and clinical practice. Interventions should guide the referral process.

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Jetan H. Badhiwala, Forough Farrokhyar, Waleed Alhazzani, Blake Yarascavitch, Mohammed Aref, Almunder Algird, Naresh Murty, Edward Kachur, Aleksa Cenic, Kesava Reddy, and Saleh A. Almenawer

Object

Information pertaining to the natural history of intramedullary spinal cord cavernous malformations (ISCCMs) and patient outcomes after surgery is scarce. To evaluate factors associated with favorable outcomes for patients with surgically and conservatively managed ISCCMs, the authors performed a systematic review and metaanalysis of the literature. In addition, they included their single-center series of ISCCMs.

Methods

The authors searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, Google Scholar, and The Cochrane Library for studies published through June 2013 that reported cases of ISCCMs. Data from all eligible studies were used to examine the epidemiology, clinical features, and neurological outcomes of patients with surgically managed and conservatively treated ISCCMs. To evaluate several variables as predictors of favorable neurological outcomes, the authors conducted a meta-analysis of individual patient data and performed univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses. Variables included patient age, patient sex, lesion spinal level, lesion size, cerebral cavernomas, family history of cavernous malformations, clinical course, presenting symptoms, treatment strategy (operative or conservative), symptom duration, surgical approach, spinal location, and extent of resection. In addition, they performed a meta-analysis to determine a pooled estimate of the annual hemorrhage rate of ISCCMs.

Results

Eligibility criteria were met by 40 studies, totaling 632 patients, including the authors' institutional series of 24 patients. Mean patient age was 39.1 years (range 2–80 years), and the male-to-female ratio was 1.1:1. Spinal levels of cavernomas were cervical (38%), cervicothoracic (2.4%), thoracic (55.2%), thoracolumbar (0.6%), lumbar (2.1%), and conus medullaris (1.7%). Average cavernoma size was 9.2 mm. Associated cerebral cavernomas occurred in 16.5% of patients, and a family history of cavernous malformation was found for 11.9% of evaluated patients. Clinical course was acute with stepwise progression for 45.4% of patients and slowly progressive for 54.6%. Symptoms were motor (60.5%), sensory (57.8%), pain (33.8%), bladder and/or bowel (23.6%), respiratory distress (0.5%), or absent (asymptomatic; 0.9%). The calculated pooled annual rate of hemorrhage was 2.1% (95% CI 1.3%–3.3%). Most (89.9%) patients underwent resection, and 10.1% underwent conservative management (observation). Outcomes were better for those who underwent resection than for those who underwent conservative management (OR 2.79, 95% CI 1.46–5.33, p = 0.002). A positive correlation with improved neurological outcomes was found for resection within 3 months of symptom onset (OR 2.11, 95% CI 1.31–3.41, p = 0.002), hemilaminectomy approach (OR 3.20, 95% CI 1.16–8.86, p = 0.03), and gross-total resection (OR 3.61, 95% CI 1.24–10.52, p = 0.02). Better outcomes were predicted by an acute clinical course (OR 1.72, 95% CI 1.10–2.68, p = 0.02) and motor symptoms (OR 1.76, 95% CI 1.08–2.86, p = 0.02); poor neurological recovery was predicted by sensory symptoms (OR 0.58, 95% CI 0.35–0.98, p = 0.04). Rates of neurological improvement after resection were no higher for patients with superficial ISCCMs than for those with deep-seated ISCCMs (OR 1.36, 95% CI 0.71–2.60, p = 0.36).

Conclusions

Intramedullary spinal cord cavernous malformations tend to be clinically progressive. The authors' findings support an operative management plan for patients with a symptomatic ISCCM. Surgical goals include gross-total resection through a more minimally invasive hemilaminectomy approach within 3 months of presentation.

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Mohsin Ali, Michael Bennardo, Saleh A. Almenawer, Nirmeen Zagzoog, Alston A. Smith, Dyda Dao, BHSc, Olufemi Ajani, Forough Farrokhyar, and Sheila K. Singh

OBJECT

Although intracranial arachnoid cysts are a common incidental finding on pediatric brain imaging, only a subset of patients require surgery for them. For the minority who undergo surgery, the comparative effectiveness of various surgical approaches is debated. The authors explored predictors of surgery and compared operative techniques for pediatric patients with an intracranial arachnoid cyst seen at a tertiary care center.

METHODS

The authors reviewed records of pediatric patients with an intracranial arachnoid cyst. For each patient, data on baseline characteristics, the method of intervention, and surgical outcomes for the initial surgery were extracted, and cyst size at diagnosis was calculated (anteroposterior × craniocaudal × mediolateral). Baseline variables were analyzed as predictors of surgery by using logistic regression modeling, excluding patients whose surgery was not related to cyst size (i.e., those with obstructive hydrocephalus secondary to the cyst compressing a narrow CSF flow pathway or cyst rupture/hemorrhage). Data collected regarding surgical outcomes were analyzed descriptively.

RESULTS

Among 83 pediatric patients with an intracranial arachnoid cyst seen over a 25-year period (1989–2013), 27 (33%) underwent surgery; all had at least 1 cyst-attributed symptom/finding. In the multivariate model, age at presentation and cyst size at diagnosis were independent predictors of surgery. Cyst size had greater predictive value; specifically, the area under the curve for the receiver-operating-characteristic curve was 0.89 (95% CI 0.82–0.97), with an ideal cutoff point of ≥ 68 cm3. This cutoff point had 100% sensitivity (95% CI 79%–100%), 75% specificity (95% CI 61%–85%), a 53% positive predictive value (95% CI 36%–70%), and a 100% negative predictive value (95% CI 91%–100%); the positive likelihood ratio was 4.0 (95% CI 2.5–6.3), and the negative likelihood ratio was 0 (95% CI 0–0.3). Although the multivariate model excluded 7 patients who underwent surgery (based on prespecified criteria), excluding these 7 cases did not change the overall findings, as shown in a sensitivity analysis that included all the cases. Descriptive results regarding surgical outcomes did not indicate any salient differences among the surgical techniques (endoscopic fenestration, cystoperitoneal shunting, or craniotomy-based procedures) in terms of symptom resolution within 6 months, need for reoperation to date, cyst-size change from before the operation, morbidity, or mortality.

CONCLUSIONS

The results of these exploratory analyses suggest that pediatric patients with an intracranial arachnoid cyst are more likely to undergo surgery if the cyst is large, compresses a narrow CSF flow pathway to cause hydrocephalus, or has ruptured/hemorrhaged. There were no salient differences among the 3 surgical techniques for several clinically important outcomes. A prospective multicenter study is required to enable more robust analyses, which could ultimately provide a decision-making framework for surgical indications and clarify any differences in the comparative effectiveness of surgical approaches to treating pediatric intracranial arachnoid cysts.