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Jonathan E. Martin, Markus Bookland, Douglas Moote and Catherine Cebulla

OBJECTIVE

Grabb’s line—the perpendicular distance from the basion-C2 line (pB-C2)—is a widely used radiographic measurement with significant clinical implications in patients with a complex Chiari malformation. Rigorous demonstration of the reproducibility of this measurement has not previously been reported. The authors report a standardized measurement technique with excellent inter- and intrarater reliability on T1-weighted sagittal MRI.

METHODS

The authors developed a standardized measurement technique that included specifications of midline slice selection, landmark and reference line definitions, and measurement technique on T1-weighted sagittal images. Twenty MR images were reviewed by 2 pediatric neurosurgeons, 1 pediatric radiologist, and 1 undergraduate student. Measurements were performed using the technique specified on 2 separate occasions. Intrarater and interrater reliabilities were calculated using the intraclass correlation coefficient.

RESULTS

A combined interrater reliability of 0.879 was achieved for the pB-C2, and 0.916 for the clival-canal angle, another measure of interest in patients with complex Chiari malformations. Intrarater reliability for these measurements exceeded 0.858 for all 4 reviewers.

CONCLUSIONS

Grabb’s line—the pB-C2—can be measured with excellent reliability using a standardized measurement protocol. Individual clinicians and collaborative databases should consider using validated measurement techniques to guide clinical decision making in patients with craniocervical junction pathology.

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Jonathan E. Martin, Richard J. Teff and Philip C. Spinella

Object

Care for host-nation pediatric casualties and disease or nonbattle injuries is an essential mission of deployed military medical assets. Clinical experience with pediatric patients at field hospitals has been increasingly reported since 2001, with neurotrauma identified as a major cause of morbidity and death in this population. A concentrated pediatric neurosurgical experience at a deployed medical facility has not been reported. The authors reviewed their experience with pediatric neurosurgical patients at a field hospital in Iraq in 2007 to provide insight into the management of this patient population.

Methods

A retrospective review was conducted using a prospective database constructed by the authors for quality improvement during a single combat rotation in 2007.

Results

Forty-two patients among 287 consultations were 17 years of age or younger. Twenty-six of these children were 8 years old or younger. Penetrating head injuries were the most common indication for consultation (22 of 42 patients). Twenty-eight of 130 surgical procedures were performed in the children. One patient died in the perioperative period, for a trauma-related operative mortality rate of 4%. Seven patients received palliative care based on the extent of presenting injuries. Twenty-five patients were discharged with minimal or no neurological deficits.

Conclusions

Pediatric patients represent a significant proportion of the neurosurgical patient volume at field medical hospitals in the Iraqi theater. The mature medical theater environment present in 2007 allowed for remarkable diagnostic evaluation and treatment of these patients. Penetrating and closed craniospinal injuries were the most common indication for consultation. Disease and nonbattle injuries were also encountered, with care provided when deemed appropriate. The deployed environment presents unique medical and ethical challenges to neurosurgeons serving in forward medical facilities.

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Jonathan E. Martin, Christopher J. Neal, William T. Monacci and David J. Eisenman

✓ Superior semicircular canal dehiscence is a recently described condition resulting in pressure-induced vertigo in affected patients. The diagnosis is established with the appearance of characteristic electronystagmographic and neuroimaging findings. This condition is amenable to surgical treatment by resurfacing of the dehiscence in the defect in the middle cranial fossa floor with preservation of superior semicircular canal function. The authors report on the treatment of a 35-year-old man with superior semicircular canal dehiscence by a joint neurosurgical and otolaryngological team.

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Jonathan E. Martin, Thomas Manning, Markus Bookland and Charles Castiglione

The authors report their initial experience with supine patient positioning for minimally invasive treatment of sagittal craniosynostosis. Supine positioning offers potential advantages that include reduced anesthetic risk and may be considered as an option by craniofacial surgeons performing minimally invasive synostectomy for sagittal craniosynostosis.

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Brian T. Ragel, Paul Klimo Jr., Jonathan E. Martin, Richard J. Teff, Hans E. Bakken and Rocco A. Armonda

Object

Decompressive craniectomy (DC) with dural expansion is a life-saving neurosurgical procedure performed for recalcitrant intracranial hypertension due to trauma, stroke, and a multitude of other etiologies. Illustratively, we describe technique and lessons learned using DC for battlefield trauma.

Methods

Neurosurgical operative logs from service (October 2007 to September 2009) in Afghanistan that detail DC cases for trauma were analyzed. Illustrative examples of frontotemporoparietal and bifrontal DC that depict battlefield experience performing these procedures are presented with attention drawn to the L.G. Kempe hemispherectomy incision, brainstem decompression techniques, and dural onlay substitutes.

Results

Ninety craniotomies were performed for trauma over the time period analyzed. Of these, 28 (31%) were DCs. Of the 28 DCs, 24 (86%) were frontotemporoparietal DCs, 7 (25%) were bifrontal DCs, and 2 (7%) were suboccipital DCs. Decompressive craniectomies were performed for 19 penetrating head injuries (13 gunshot wounds and 6 explosions) and 9 severe closed head injuries (6 war-related explosions and 3 others).

Conclusions

Thirty-one percent of craniotomies performed for trauma were DCs. Battlefield neurosurgeons use DC to allow for safe transfer of neurologically ill patients to tertiary military hospitals, which can be located 8–18 hours from a war zone. The authors recommend the L.G. Kempe incision for blood supply preservation, large craniectomies to prevent brain strangulation over bone edges, minimal brain debridement, adequate brainstem decompression, and dural onlay substitutes for dural closure.

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Jonathan E. Martin, Brandon G. Rocque, Andrew Jea, Richard C. E. Anderson, Joshua Pahys and Douglas Brockmeyer

OBJECTIVE

Hypermobility of the craniocervical junction (CCJ) in patients with Down syndrome (DS) is common. Whereas atlantoaxial (C1–2) hypermobility is well characterized, occipitoatlantal (Oc–C1) laxity is recognized but poorly defined. A clear understanding of the risks associated with DS-related hypermobility is lacking. Research efforts to address the topic of axial cervical spine instability in the patient with DS require a reliable and reproducible means of assessing CCJ mobility. The authors conducted a pilot study comparing two methods of quantifying motion of the CCJ on dynamic (flexion/extension) plain radiographs: the delta–condyle-axial interval (ΔCAI) and the delta–basion-axial interval (ΔBAI) methods.

METHODS

Dynamic radiographs from a cohort of 10 patients with DS were evaluated according to prescribed standards. Independent movement of Oc–C1, C1–2, and Oc–C2 was calculated. Interrater and intrarater reliability for CCJ mobility was then calculated for both techniques.

RESULTS

Measurement using the ΔCAI technique had excellent fidelity with intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) of 0.77, 0.71, and 0.80 for Oc–C1, C1–2, and Oc–C2, respectively. The ΔBAI technique had lower fidelity, yielding respective ICCs of 0.61, 0.65, and 0.50.

CONCLUSIONS

This pilot study suggests that ΔCAI is a superior measurement technique compared to ΔBAI and may provide reliable assessment of the mobility of the CCJ on dynamic radiographs in the pediatric patient with DS. The use of reliable and reproducible measurement techniques strengthens the validity of research derived from pooled database efforts.

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Donnell K. Bowen, Lex A. Mitchell, Mark W. Burnett, Veronica J. Rooks and Jonathan E. Martin

Pyomyositis, a suppurative infection of skeletal muscle, is a disease not frequently encountered by neurosurgical providers. While previously considered an infection localized to tropical and semitropical locations, clinical reports of pyomyositis in temperate climates have increased over the past decade. Paraspinal involvement is uncommon in pyomyositis; however, the potential exists for spread into the epidural space resulting in a spinal epidural abscess (SEA). Early diagnosis of an SEA is frequently hampered by the absence of specific signs, unfamiliarity with the disease, atypical manifestations, and a broad differential diagnosis that includes more common causes of back pain. To date, 1 such case of paraspinal pyomyositis associated with an SEA has been reported in the neurosurgical literature. The authors present 2 cases of pyomyositis with an SEA and review the epidemiology, pathophysiology, diagnostic workup, and management of this disorder.

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Brandon G. Rocque, Bradley E. Weprin, Jeffrey P. Blount, Betsy D. Hopson, James M. Drake, Mark G. Hamilton, Michael A. Williams, Patience H. White, Katie O. Orrico and Jonathan E. Martin

OBJECTIVE

The number of children with complex medical conditions surviving to adulthood is increasing. A planned transition to adult care systems is essential to the health maintenance of these patients. Guidance has been established for the general health care transition (HCT) from adolescence to adulthood. No formal assessment of the performance of pediatric neurosurgeons in HCT has been previously performed. No “best practice” for this process in pediatric neurosurgery currently exists. The authors pursued two goals in this paper: 1) define the current state of HCT in pediatric neurosurgery through a survey of the membership of the American Society of Pediatric Neurosurgeons (ASPN) on current methods of HCT, and 2) develop leadership-endorsed best-practice guidelines for HCT from pediatric to adult neurosurgical health care.

METHODS

Completion of the Current Assessment of Health Care Transition Activities survey was requested of 178 North American pediatric neurosurgeons by using a web-based questionnaire to capture HCT practices of the ASPN membership. The authors concurrently conducted a PubMed/MEDLINE–based literature review of HCT for young adults with special health care needs, surgical conditions, and/or neurological conditions for the period from 1990 to 2018. Selected articles were assembled and reviewed by subject matter experts and members of the ASPN Quality, Safety, and Advocacy Committee. Best-practice recommendations were developed and subjected to peer review by external expert groups.

RESULTS

Seventy-six responses to the survey (43%) were received, and 62 respondents (82%) answered all 12 questions. Scores of 1 (lowest possible score) were recorded by nearly 60% of respondents on transition policy, by almost 70% on transition tracking, by 85% on transition readiness, by at least 40% on transition planning as well as transfer of care, and by 53% on transition completion. Average responses on all core elements were < 2 on the established 4-point scale. Seven best-practice recommendations were developed and endorsed by the ASPN leadership.

CONCLUSIONS

The majority of pediatric neurosurgeons have transition practices that are poor, do not meet the needs of patients and families, and should be improved. A structured approach to transition, local engagement with adult neurosurgical providers, and national partnerships between pediatric and adult neurosurgery organizations are suggested to address current gaps in HCT for patients served by pediatric neurosurgeons.