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Sebastian M. Toescu, Gargi Samarth, Hugo Layard Horsfall, Richard Issitt, Ben Margetts, Kim P. Phipps, Noor-ul-Owase Jeelani, Dominic N. P. Thompson, and Kristian Aquilina

OBJECTIVES

The goal of this study was to characterize the complications and morbidity related to the surgical management of pediatric fourth ventricle tumors.

METHODS

All patients referred to the authors’ institution with posterior fossa tumors from 2002 to 2018 inclusive were screened to include only true fourth ventricle tumors. Preoperative imaging and clinical notes were reviewed to extract data on presenting symptoms; surgical episodes, techniques, and adjuncts; tumor histology; and postoperative complications.

RESULTS

Three hundred fifty-four children with posterior fossa tumors were treated during the study period; of these, 185 tumors were in the fourth ventricle, and 167 fourth ventricle tumors with full data sets were included in this analysis. One hundred patients were male (mean age ± SD, 5.98 ± 4.12 years). The most common presenting symptom was vomiting (63.5%). The most common tumor types, in order, were medulloblastoma (94 cases) > pilocytic astrocytoma (30 cases) > ependymoma (30 cases) > choroid plexus neoplasms (5 cases) > atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumor (4 cases), with 4 miscellaneous lesions. Of the 67.1% of patients who presented with hydrocephalus, 45.5% had an external ventricular drain inserted (66.7% of these prior to tumor surgery, 56.9% frontal); these patients were more likely to undergo ventriculoperitoneal shunt (VPS) placement at a later date (p = 0.00673). Twenty-two had an endoscopic third ventriculostomy, of whom 8 later underwent VPS placement. Overall, 19.7% of patients had a VPS sited during treatment.

Across the whole series, the transvermian approach was more frequent than the telovelar approach (64.1% vs 33.0%); however, the telovelar approach was significantly more common in the latter half of the series (p < 0.001). Gross-total resection was achieved in 70.7%. The most common postoperative deficit was cerebellar mutism syndrome (CMS; 28.7%), followed by new weakness (24.0%), cranial neuropathy (18.0%), and new gait abnormality/ataxia (12.6%). Use of intraoperative ultrasonography significantly reduced the incidence of CMS (p = 0.0365). There was no significant difference in the rate of CMS between telovelar or transvermian approaches (p = 0.745), and multivariate logistic regression modeling did not reveal any statistically significant relationships between CMS and surgical approach.

CONCLUSIONS

Surgical management of pediatric fourth ventricle tumors continues to evolve, and resection is increasingly performed through the telovelar route. CMS is enduringly the major postoperative complication in this patient population.

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Hugo Layard Horsfall, Sebastian M. Toescu, Patrick J. Grover, Jane Hassell, Charlotte Sayer, Cheryl Hemingway, Brian Harding, Thomas S. Jacques, and Kristian Aquilina

OBJECTIVE

The authors’ aim was to characterize a single-center experience of brain biopsy in pediatric cryptogenic neurological disease.

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective review of consecutive brain biopsies at a tertiary pediatric neurosciences unit between 1997 and 2017. Children < 18 years undergoing biopsy for neurological pathology were included. Those with presumed neoplasms and biopsy performed in the context of epilepsy surgery were excluded.

RESULTS

Forty-nine biopsies in 47 patients (25 females, mean age ± SD 9.0 ± 5.3 years) were performed during the study period. The most common presenting symptoms were focal neurological deficit (28.6%) and focal seizure (26.5%). Histopathological, microbiological, and genetic analyses of biopsy material were contributory to the diagnosis in 34 cases (69.4%). Children presenting with focal seizures or with diffuse (> 3 lesions) brain involvement on MRI were more likely to yield a diagnosis at biopsy (OR 3.07 and 2.4, respectively). Twelve patients were immunocompromised and were more likely to yield a diagnosis at biopsy (OR 6.7). Surgery was accompanied by severe complications in 1 patient. The most common final diagnoses were infective (16/49, 32.7%), followed by chronic inflammatory processes (10/49, 20.4%) and occult neoplastic disease (9/49, 18.4%). In 38 cases (77.6%), biopsy was considered to have altered clinical management.

CONCLUSIONS

Brain biopsy for cryptogenic neurological disease in children was contributory to the diagnosis in 69.4% of cases and changed clinical management in 77.6%. Biopsy most commonly revealed underlying infective processes, chronic inflammatory changes, or occult neoplastic disease. Although generally safe, the risk of severe complications may be higher in immunocompromised and myelosuppressed children.

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Bertrand Mathon, Marc Pineton de Chambrun, Alexandre Le Joncour, and Aymeric Amelot