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Roland N. Auer, James Budny, Charles G. Drake and Melvyn J. Ball

✓ A 15-year-old youth presented with a history and computerized tomography picture of subarachnoid hemorrhage. Conservative management was undertaken after failure to demonstrate an aneurysm. Reevaluation and operation 15 months later disclosed a firm leathery schwannoma intimately related to the frontal lobe and extending into the cortex in the Virchow-Robin spaces.

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Harold J. Hoffman, Hiroshi Otsubo, E. Bruce Hendrick, Robin P. Humphreys, James M. Drake, Laurence E. Becker, Mark Greenberg and Derek Jenkin

✓ All patients with confirmed intracranial germ-cell tumors treated at the Hospital of Sick Children during the period January, 1952, to December, 1989, were reviewed. Of the 51 tumors reviewed, 16 were located in the suprasellar region, 32 in the pineal region, and three in both the pineal and the suprasellar regions. Forty-nine patients underwent surgical resection which was total in seven and partial in 20, and consisted of a biopsy in 22. Two patients were managed on the basis of serum and cerebrospinal fluid markers. Surgical tools such as the operating microscope, the ultrasonic surgical aspirator, and the laser beam allowed safe debulking and removal of the deep-seated tumors in the pineal region. There were no operative deaths in the 36 patients treated since 1972, who included 23 with pineal tumors. Twenty-five patients with germinomas received radiotherapy and had a 5-year survival rate of 85.1%. Thirteen patients with non-germinoma germ-cell tumors received radiotherapy and had a 5-year survival rate of 45.5%. On the basis of this review, the authors recommend resection of pineal and suprasellar germ-cell tumors in order to firmly establish an accurate histological diagnosis to guide the extent of adjuvant therapy. In the case of a pure germinoma without evidence of dissemination, adjuvant therapy consists only of local radiotherapy. On the other hand, for malignant non-germinoma germ-cell tumors, adjuvant therapy must include chemotherapy as well as craniospinal axis radiotherapy.

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James M. Drake, Alastair J. Martin and R. Mark Henkleman

✓ The cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) flow rates in 12 patients with symptoms suggestive of CSF shunt obstruction were measured with magnetic resonance (MR) phase imaging. The shunts were imaged over the skull, just distal to any reservoir, using a curved surface coil. Images perpendicular to the direction of flow were made on a 1.5-tesla clinical unit with a flow-sensitive pulse sequence. The patients' ages ranged from 2 months to 28 years. All patients had ancillary investigations to determine the functional status of the shunt. No flow was detected in seven patients with blocked shunts. Flow rates between 3 and 40 cc/hr were found in three patients with functioning shunts. Two patients, one with a blocked shunt and one with a functioning shunt, could not be imaged due to motion artifact. Magnetic resonance phase imaging is a promising technique in the determination of CSF shunt obstruction.

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Harold J. Hoffman, Marcia De Silva, Robin P. Humphreys, James M. Drake, Mary Lou Smith and Susan I. Blaser

✓ The cases of 50 patients with craniopharyngioma operated on at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto between January, 1975, and December, 1989, are reviewed. All patients were under 18 years of age (mean 9.39 years). Headaches, endocrine deficiences, and visual deficits were the most common symptoms on admission. Forty-five patients underwent what was considered by the surgeon to be total excision of their tumor, and five had subtotal excision. Tumors recurred in 17 patients (mean time of recurrence 32.6 months after surgery). One patient died in the postoperative period and three have been lost to follow-up study. Of the remaining 46 patients, 28 are leading a normal or nearly normal life, although all are receiving endocrine replacement and some have required help to overcome mild deficits in memory or visual acuity. Twelve patients are able to function reasonably well and attend school despite being hampered by intellectual or visual deficits or problems with weight control; four have a significant handicap, and two have died.

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William P. Vandertop, Akio Asai, Harold J. Hoffman, James M. Drake, Robin P. Humphreys, James T. Rutka and Laurence E. Becker

✓ Between January, 1981, and July, 1991, 17 infants under 1 month of age were admitted to The Hospital for Sick Children with the signs and symptoms of a Chiari II malformation. These patients' presentation included swallowing difficulty (71%), stridor (59%), apneic spells (29%), aspiration (12%), weakness of cry (18%), and arm weakness (53%). Decompression of the Chiari II malformation was performed in all patients, with a time interval between onset of symptoms and surgery ranging from 1 to 121 days. Fifteen patients (88%) remain alive, all of whom have shown a complete recovery. The mean follow-up period in this group of patients was 65 months. Two patients died, one due to respiratory arrest 8 months after decompression and the other because of shunt infection and peritonitis 7 years after decompression. These results support the concept that compressive forces, rather than a primary intrinsic disorder of the brain-stem nuclei, play a crucial etiological role in the development of a symptomatic Chiari II malformation. Early recognition of the symptoms of Chiari II malformation should be followed by immediate decompressive laminectomy in order to promote a prompt and full neurological recovery.

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Paul D. Chumas, Derek C. Armstrong, James M. Drake, Abhaya V. Kulkarni, Harold J. Hoffman, Robin P. Humphreys, James T. Rutka and E. Bruce Hendrick

✓ Although the development of tonsillar herniation (acquired Chiari malformation) in association with lumboperitoneal (LP) shunting is well recognized, it has previously been considered rare. In order to ascertain the incidence of this complication after LP shunting, the authors undertook a retrospective study of all patients in whom this form of shunt had been inserted between 1974 and 1991 at The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto. In the 143 patients, the mean age at insertion was 3.3 years and the indications for shunt placement were hydrocephalus (81%), pseudotumor cerebri (7%), cerebrospinal fluid fistula (6%), and posterior fossa pseudomeningocele (6%). The mean follow-up period was 5.7 years, during which time there was one shunt-related death due to unsuspected tonsillar herniation. Five other patients developed symptomatic tonsillar herniation treated by suboccipital decompression.

Review of all computerized tomography (CT) scans not degraded by artifact showed evidence of excess soft tissue at the level of the foramen magnum in 38 (70%) of 54 patients so studied. In order to confirm that this CT finding represented hindbrain herniation, sagittal and axial magnetic resonance (MR) images were obtained for 17 asymptomatic patients and revealed tonsillar herniation (range 2 to 21 mm) in 12 (70.6%). In addition, some of these asymptomatic patients had evidence of uncal herniation and mesencephalic distortion. Similarities and distinctions are drawn between the morphological changes occurring after LP shunting and those seen in association with the Chiari I and II malformations. Although less than 5% of this study population required treatment for tonsillar herniation, the incidence of this complication was high in asymptomatic patients; MR imaging surveillance for patients with LP shunts is therefore recommended.

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Paul D. Chumas, Marc R. Del Bigio, James M. Drake and Ursula I. Tuor

✓ It has recently been reported that pretreatment with a single dose of dexamethasone (0.1 mg/kg) 24 hours before hypoxia in 7-day-old rat pups is protective against an hypoxic-ischemic insult (unilateral carotid artery occlusion followed by 3 hours of hypoxia in 8% O2). The authors now examine whether pretreatment 6 hours before insult is equally effective and compare other agents potentially suitable for prophylaxis in neonatal hypoxia-ischemia, including the calcium antagonists flunarizine (30 mg/kg pretreatment), nimodipine (0.5 mg/kg pretreatment), and the 21-aminosteroid U-74389F (10 mg/kg pre- and posttreatment). For each active agent, there was also a vehicle-treated control group.

Comparison of the mean area of ipsilateral infarction on brain coronal sections showed that there was no statistically significant difference between the various control groups (mean area of infarction 66% ± 4%). Pretreatment with dexamethasone 6 hours prior to hypoxia offered complete protection with no infarction. A beneficial effect was seen following pretreatment with flunarizine (mean area of infarction 33.6% ± 7.8%), although this degree of damage was still significantly different from that seen with dexamethasone pretreatment. Pretreatment with nimodipine or U-74389F offered no protection (mean area of infarction 77.5% ± 4% and 59% ± 10%, respectively). Unlike findings in adult animals and clinical studies, the current studies show that dexamethasone may have a role in the treatment of neonatal hypoxia-ischemia and deserves reappraisal.

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Paul D. Chumas, James M. Drake, Marc R. Del Bigio, Marcia Da Silva and Ursula I. Tuor

✓ The metabolic changes in neonatal hydrocephalus that lead to permanent brain injury are not clearly defined, nor is the extent to which these changes can be prevented by a cerebrospinal fluid shunt. To clarify these processes, cerebral glucose utilization was examined using [14C]2-deoxyglucose autoradiography in 1-month-old kittens, kaolin-induced hydrocephalic littermates, and hydrocephalic kittens in which a ventriculoperitoneal shunt had been inserted 10 days after kaolin injection. The hydrocephalic kittens showed thinning of the cerebral mantle and an anterior-to-posterior gradient of enlargement of the ventricular system, with a ventricle:brain ratio of 24% for the frontal and 35% for the occipital horns compared with control (< 0.5%) and shunted (< 5%) animals. White matter in hydrocephalic animals was edematous. Myelination was delayed in the periventricular region and in the cores of the cerebral gyri.

Glucose utilization in hydrocephalic and shunted animals was unchanged from control animals in all gray-matter regions examined. However, in hydrocephalic animals, the frontal white matter exhibited a significant increase in glucose utilization (25 µmol • 100 gm−1 • min−1) in the cores of gyri compared with normal surrounding white-matter values (14.8 µmol • 100 gm−1 • min−1). Very low values (mean 4 µmol • 100 gm−1 • min−1) were found in areas corresponding to severe white-matter edema, and these areas were surrounded by a halo of increased activity (24 µmol • 100 gm−1 • min−1). In contrast, cytochrome oxidase activity in white matter was homogeneous. Shunting resulted in restoration of the cerebral mantle thickness, a return to normal levels of glucose utilization in the white matter, and an improvement in myelination.

It is suggested that the areas of increased glucose utilization seen in the white matter represent anaerobic glycolysis which, if untreated, progresses to infarction. The pattern of this increased glucose utilization matches that of expected myelination and, during this period of high energy demand, white matter may be susceptible to the hypoperfusion associated with hydrocephalus.