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Jeffrey P. Blount and Scott Elton

Lipomas of the spinal cord are among the most fascinating lesions encountered by the pediatric neurosurgeon. An understanding of spinal lipomas may, however, be difficult because the terminology used to describe the accumulations of spinal fat is confusing, inconsistently applied, and at times contradictory. An anatomical characterization of lipomas may assist in understanding these lesions. Lipomas of the spinal cord are very rare and cause symptoms related to mass effect and secondary compressive myelopathy. Lipomas of the conus medullaris (or lipomyelomeningocele) are the most common form of fatty masses in the spine and can be divided into dorsal, caudal, and transitional forms. These lesions are a manifestation of occult spinal dysraphism and a common cause of the tethered cord syndrome (TCS). The natural history of untreated lipomyelomeningocele, although incompletely understood, appears to be progressive neurological deterioration with loss of bladder control. Timely, careful surgical intervention may prevent significant neurological deterioration and progressive disability in the majority of children harboring these lesions. In surgical intervention the surgeon seeks to disrupt the connection between the fibrofatty mass and underlying cord as well as to reestablish normal anatomical planes. Several intraoperative video segments illustrating lipomyelome-ningocele resection are included in this paper. Lipomas of the terminal filum (fatty filum) are truly occult and are also associated with TCS. Surgical treatment of filum lipomas carries significantly lower risk than that for lipomas of the conus medullaris. Again, the goal of surgery is to disrupt the connection between the abnormal fibrofatty tissue and the underlying spinal cord.

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Jeffrey P. Blount, Kent B. Remley, Samuel K. Yue, and Donald L. Erickson

✓ Intrathecal morphine delivered by implanted pumps has been used in the treatment of pain caused by terminal cancer. Some authors supports its use in benign pain as well. The authors present three cases in which chronic infiltration of intraspinal narcotic medication was complicated by the formation of a granulomatous mass that became large enough to exert mass effect and induce neurological dysfunction.

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Elizabeth N. Kuhn, Betsy Hopson, Michael J. Conklin, and Jeffrey P. Blount

OBJECTIVE

Patients with myelomeningocele are often affected by scoliosis and tethered cord syndrome, and frequently require spine surgery. Intradural spine surgeries may carry an inherently higher risk of inducing shunt malfunction due to entry into the subarachnoid space. In this study, the authors sought to compare rates of shunt malfunction after intradural and extradural spine surgeries among pediatric patients with myelomeningocele.

METHODS

The authors reviewed records of the National Spina Bifida Program Registry for Children’s Hospital of Alabama. The Exago reporting function was used to identify patients who had received at least one of the following procedures: shunt revision, tethered cord release (TCR), or spinal fusion for deformity. The registry records were reviewed for all identified patients to determine if a shunt revision was performed within the 1st year after TCR or spinal fusion.

RESULTS

Final analyses included 117 patients, of whom 39 underwent spinal fusion and 78 underwent TCR. Among patients who underwent spinal fusion, shunt revision was performed within 30 days in 2 patients (5.1%), within 60 days in 2 (5.1%), within 90 days in 4 (10.3%), and within 1 year in 5 (12.8%). Among patients who underwent TCR, shunt revision was performed within 30 days in 7 patients (9.0%), within 60 days in 10 (12.8%), within 90 days in 11 (14.1%), and within 1 year in 17 (21.8%). Using the log-rank test, there was no significant difference in Kaplan-Meier curves between intradural and extradural groups (p = 0.59).

CONCLUSIONS

In a review of single-institution registry data, the authors found no statistically significant difference in the risk of shunt malfunction after intradural and extradural spine surgeries.

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Jeffrey P. Blount, Amber S. Gordon, Paul M. Foreman, and John H. Grant

The authors report on an infant with a bifrontal encephalocele that was associated with multisuture craniosynostosis, spasticity, and a progressively severe epilepsy. They describe the initial presentation, genetic screening results, staged multidisciplinary operative plans, clinical course, complications, and long-term surgical and developmental follow-up. To their knowledge, the comprehensive surgical management of this type of complicated congenital cranial anomaly has not been previously described.

Surgical management was staged and multidisciplinary and required careful attention to all 3 components of the condition: 1) hydrocephalus, 2) frontal meningoencephalocele, and 3) epilepsy.

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Benjamin C. Kennedy, Joshua Katz, Jacob Lepard, and Jeffrey P. Blount

OBJECTIVE

Stereoelectroencephalography (SEEG) has become widespread in the United States during the past decade. Many pediatric neurosurgeons practicing SEEG may not have had experience with this technique during their formal training, and the literature is mostly limited to single-center series. As a result, implementation of this relatively new technique may vary at different institutions. The authors hypothesized that aspects of SEEG experience, techniques, and outcomes would vary widely among programs across the country.

METHODS

An electronic survey with 35 questions addressing the categories of training and experience, technique, electrode locations, and outcomes was sent to 128 pediatric epilepsy surgeons who were potential SEEG users.

RESULTS

Sixty-one pediatric fellowship-trained epilepsy surgeons in the United States responded to the survey. Eighty-nine percent were actively using SEEG in their practice. Seventy-two percent of SEEG programs were in existence for less than 5 years, and 68% were using SEEG for > 70% of their invasive monitoring. Surgeons at higher-volume centers operated on younger patients (p < 0.001). Most surgeons (70%) spent 1–3 hours per case planning electrode trajectories. Two-thirds of respondents reported a median implant duration of 5–7 days, but 16% reported never having an implant duration > 5 days, and 16% reported having had implants stay in place for > 4 weeks. The median response for the median number of electrodes initially implanted was 12 electrodes, although 19% of respondents reported median implants of 5–8 electrodes and 17% reported median implants of 15–18 electrodes. Having a higher volume of SEEG cases per year was associated with a higher median number of electrodes implanted (p < 0.001). Most surgeons found SEEG helpful in defining an epileptic network and reported that most of their SEEG patients undergo focal surgical treatment.

CONCLUSIONS

SEEG has been embraced by the pediatric epilepsy surgery community. Higher case volume is correlated with a tendency to place more electrodes and operate on younger patients. For most parameters addressed in the survey, responses from surgeons clustered around a norm, though additional findings of substantial variations highlight differences in implementation and philosophy among pediatric epilepsy programs.

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Benjamin C. Kennedy, Joshua Katz, Jacob Lepard, and Jeffrey P. Blount

OBJECTIVE

Stereoelectroencephalography (SEEG) has become widespread in the United States during the past decade. Many pediatric neurosurgeons practicing SEEG may not have had experience with this technique during their formal training, and the literature is mostly limited to single-center series. As a result, implementation of this relatively new technique may vary at different institutions. The authors hypothesized that aspects of SEEG experience, techniques, and outcomes would vary widely among programs across the country.

METHODS

An electronic survey with 35 questions addressing the categories of training and experience, technique, electrode locations, and outcomes was sent to 128 pediatric epilepsy surgeons who were potential SEEG users.

RESULTS

Sixty-one pediatric fellowship-trained epilepsy surgeons in the United States responded to the survey. Eighty-nine percent were actively using SEEG in their practice. Seventy-two percent of SEEG programs were in existence for less than 5 years, and 68% were using SEEG for > 70% of their invasive monitoring. Surgeons at higher-volume centers operated on younger patients (p < 0.001). Most surgeons (70%) spent 1–3 hours per case planning electrode trajectories. Two-thirds of respondents reported a median implant duration of 5–7 days, but 16% reported never having an implant duration > 5 days, and 16% reported having had implants stay in place for > 4 weeks. The median response for the median number of electrodes initially implanted was 12 electrodes, although 19% of respondents reported median implants of 5–8 electrodes and 17% reported median implants of 15–18 electrodes. Having a higher volume of SEEG cases per year was associated with a higher median number of electrodes implanted (p < 0.001). Most surgeons found SEEG helpful in defining an epileptic network and reported that most of their SEEG patients undergo focal surgical treatment.

CONCLUSIONS

SEEG has been embraced by the pediatric epilepsy surgery community. Higher case volume is correlated with a tendency to place more electrodes and operate on younger patients. For most parameters addressed in the survey, responses from surgeons clustered around a norm, though additional findings of substantial variations highlight differences in implementation and philosophy among pediatric epilepsy programs.

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Jeffrey P. Blount, R. Shane Tubbs, W. Jerry Oakes, and Robin P. Humphreys

✓ Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) are the most common cause of intracerebral hemorrhage in children. In this paper the authors trace the historical evolution of the recognition, diagnosis, and treatment of pediatric intracerebral AVMs, and they summarize the contemporary approach and current controversies surrounding treatment of these lesions. Important distinctions between adult and pediatric AVMs are emphasized.

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Jeffrey P. Blount, W. Jerry Oakes, R. Shane Tubbs, and Robin P. Humphreys

✓ Vein of Galen aneurysmal malformations are a mixed group of lesions characterized by an abnormal fistula between abnormal distal branches of the choroidal and/or posterior cerebral arteries and the great vein of Galen. In this paper the authors trace the historical evolution of the current approach to diagnosis and treatment, and the literature is reviewed comprehensively. During the historical era, vein of Galen malformations were described in individual case reports and an early classification system was developed. In the early era of treatment, open surgery was the preferred approach, although morbidity and mortality rates were high. The development of neurointerventional techniques allowed the introduction of occlusive materials into the fistula, with pronounced improvements in clinical outcome.