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Recent advances in the neurosurgical treatment of pediatric epilepsy

JNSPG 75th Anniversary Invited Review Article

Jarod L. Roland and Matthew D. Smyth

The field of epilepsy surgery has seen tremendous growth in recent years. Innovative new devices have driven much of this growth, but some has been driven by revisions of existing products. Devices have also helped to rejuvenate existing procedures, as in the case of robotic assistance for electrode placement for stereo-electroencephalography, and these devices have brought significant attention along with their introduction. Other devices, such as responsive neurostimulators or laser interstitial thermal therapy systems, have introduced novel treatment modalities and broadened the surgical indications. Collectively, these advances are rapidly changing much of the landscape in the world of pediatric neurosurgery for medically refractory epilepsy. The foundations for indications for neurosurgical intervention are well supported in strong research data, which has also been expanded in recent years. In this article, the authors review advances in the neurosurgical treatment of pediatric epilepsy, beginning with trials that have repeatedly demonstrated the value of neurosurgical procedures for medically refractory epilepsy and following with several recent advances that are largely focused on less-invasive intervention.

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Syed Hassan A. Akbari, Christine E. Averill, Jarod L. Roland, Rachel Orscheln and Jennifer Strahle

Bartonella henselae is a gram-negative bacillus implicated in cat-scratch disease. Cat-scratch disease is usually self-limiting and results in local lymphadenopathy. In rare circumstances, patients may develop endocarditis, neuroretinitis, or osteomyelitis. Osteomyelitis of the cervical spine is exceedingly rare, especially in the pediatric population, and to date there have been only 4 previously reported cases of cervical spine osteomyelitis caused by B. henselae, all of which were treated surgically. In this article, the authors report the case of a 7-year-old boy who presented with neck swelling and was found to have a C2–4 paravertebral B. henselae abscess with osteomyelitis of C-3 and epidural extension. To the authors’ knowledge, this represents the first case in the literature of a cervical spine B. henselae infection managed conservatively.

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Jarod L. Roland, Richard L. Price, Ashwin A. Kamath, S. Hassan Akbari, Eric C. Leuthardt, Brandon A. Miller and Matthew D. Smyth

The authors describe 2 cases of triventricular hydrocephalus initially presenting as aqueductal stenosis that subsequently developed tumors of the pineal and tectal region. The first case resembled late-onset idiopathic aqueductal stenosis on serial imaging. Subsequent imaging revealed a new tumor in the pineal region causing mass effect on the midbrain. The second case presented in a more typical pattern of aqueductal stenosis during infancy. On delayed follow-up imaging, an enlarging tectal mass was discovered. In both cases hydrocephalus was successfully treated by cerebrospinal fluid diversion prior to tumor presentation. The differential diagnoses, diagnostic testing, and treatment course for these unusual cases are discussed. The importance of follow-up MRI in cases of idiopathic aqueductal stenosis is emphasized by these exemplar cases.

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Matthew R. Reynolds, Jarod L. Roland, Ashwin A. Kamath, DeWitte T. Cross III and Ralph G. Dacey Jr.

Perforating arteries rarely project from the fundus of an aneurysm. We present the case of a 35-year-old woman who was found to have a right posterior communicating artery (PCOM) aneurysm via catheter angiography. Superselective microcatheter angiography revealed that perforating arteries arose from the aneurysm fundus that supplied the anterolateral thalamus. Microsurgical exploration confirmed several small perforating arteries arising from the aneurysm dome as well as an atretic distal PCOM artery. Given the complex anatomy, the lesion was unsuitable for clipping. We propose that this aneurysm represents a developmental variant whereby the proximal PCOM artery becomes atretic and terminates in PCOM perforators.

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Jarod L. Roland, Natalie Griffin, Carl D. Hacker, Ananth K. Vellimana, S. Hassan Akbari, Joshua S. Shimony, Matthew D. Smyth, Eric C. Leuthardt and David D. Limbrick Jr.


Cerebral mapping for surgical planning and operative guidance is a challenging task in neurosurgery. Pediatric patients are often poor candidates for many modern mapping techniques because of inability to cooperate due to their immature age, cognitive deficits, or other factors. Resting-state functional MRI (rs-fMRI) is uniquely suited to benefit pediatric patients because it is inherently noninvasive and does not require task performance or significant cooperation. Recent advances in the field have made mapping cerebral networks possible on an individual basis for use in clinical decision making. The authors present their initial experience translating rs-fMRI into clinical practice for surgical planning in pediatric patients.


The authors retrospectively reviewed cases in which the rs-fMRI analysis technique was used prior to craniotomy in pediatric patients undergoing surgery in their institution. Resting-state analysis was performed using a previously trained machine-learning algorithm for identification of resting-state networks on an individual basis. Network maps were uploaded to the clinical imaging and surgical navigation systems. Patient demographic and clinical characteristics, including need for sedation during imaging and use of task-based fMRI, were also recorded.


Twenty patients underwent rs-fMRI prior to craniotomy between December 2013 and June 2016. Their ages ranged from 1.9 to 18.4 years, and 12 were male. Five of the 20 patients also underwent task-based fMRI and one underwent awake craniotomy. Six patients required sedation to tolerate MRI acquisition, including resting-state sequences. Exemplar cases are presented including anatomical and resting-state functional imaging.


Resting-state fMRI is a rapidly advancing field of study allowing for whole brain analysis by a noninvasive modality. It is applicable to a wide range of patients and effective even under general anesthesia. The nature of resting-state analysis precludes any need for task cooperation. These features make rs-fMRI an ideal technology for cerebral mapping in pediatric neurosurgical patients. This review of the use of rs-fMRI mapping in an initial pediatric case series demonstrates the feasibility of utilizing this technique in pediatric neurosurgical patients. The preliminary experience presented here is a first step in translating this technique to a broader clinical practice.