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Nathan P. Dean, Susan Boslaugh, P. David Adelson, Jose A. Pineda and Jeffrey R. Leonard

Object

The aim of this study was to evaluate physician agreement with published recommendations and guidelines for the management of severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) in children and to identify markers associated with physician responses matching published guidelines.

Methods

An Internet survey was created based on recommendations and guidelines published in 2003 and was sent to US physicians and neurosurgeons caring for pediatric patients with severe TBI. Agreement with each recommendation was tabulated. Characteristics of the surveyed physicians and their institutions were compared to identify markers of conformity with first-tier recommendations (intracranial pressure [ICP] treatment threshold, monitoring cerebral perfusion pressure, use of sedation/neuromuscular blockade, and use of hyperosmolar therapy).

Results

One hundred ninety-four US physicians responded: 36 neurosurgeons and 158 nonsurgeons. Overall, physician responses matched most recommendations more than 60% of the time. The serum osmolality threshold of hypertonic saline, use of prophylactic hyperventilation, and differences in ICP thresholds based on a child's age comprised the recommendations with the least agreement. No physician variable was linked to increased agreement with first-tier recommendations.

Conclusions

Overall, physician responses coincided with the published guidelines and recommendations. Examples of variable conformance most likely reflect the paucity of available data and lack of randomized controlled trials in the field of severe TBI.

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Stephen B. Lewis, Gregory J. Velat, Lynn Miralia, Linda Papa, Jada M. Aikman, Regina A. Wolper, Chris S. Firment, Ming Chen Liu, Jose A. Pineda, Kevin K. W. Wang and Ronald L. Hayes

Object

Aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (ASAH) is a serious event with grave consequences. Delayed ischemic neurological deficits caused by cerebral arterial vasospasm contribute significantly to death and disability. Biomarkers may reflect brain injury and provide an early warning of impending neurological decline and stroke from ASAH-induced vasospasm. Alpha-II spectrin is a cytoskeletal protein whose breakdown products are candidate surrogate markers of injury magnitude, treatment efficacy, and outcome. In addition, αII spectrin breakdown products (SBDPs) can provide information on the proteolytic mechanisms of injury.

Methods

Twenty patients who received a diagnosis of Fisher Grade 3 ASAH were enrolled in this study to examine the clinical utility of SBDPs in the detection of cerebral vasospasm in patients with ASAH. All patients underwent placement of a ventriculostomy for continual cerebrospinal fluid drainage within 72 hours of ASAH onset. Cerebrospinal fluid samples were collected every 6 hours and analyzed using Western Blotting for SBDPs. Onset of vasospasm was defined as an acute onset of a focal neurological deficit or a change in Glasgow Coma Scale score of two or more points. All suspected cases of vasospasm were confirmed on imaging studies.

Results

Both calpain- and caspase-mediated SBDP levels are significantly increased in patients suffering ASAH. The concentration of SBDPs was found to increase significantly over baseline level up to 12 hours before the onset of cerebral arterial vasospasm.

Conclusions

Differential expression of SBDPs suggests oncotic necrotic proteolysis may be predominant in acute brain injury after ASAH and cerebral arterial vasospasm.

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Jacob K. Greenberg, Donna B. Jeffe, Christopher R. Carpenter, Yan Yan, Jose A. Pineda, Angela Lumba-Brown, Martin S. Keller, Daniel Berger, Robert J. Bollo, Vijay M. Ravindra, Robert P. Naftel, Michael C. Dewan, Manish N. Shah, Erin C. Burns, Brent R. O’Neill, Todd C. Hankinson, William E. Whitehead, P. David Adelson, Mandeep S. Tamber, Patrick J. McDonald, Edward S. Ahn, William Titsworth, Alina N. West, Ross C. Brownson and David D. Limbrick Jr.

OBJECTIVE

There remains uncertainty regarding the appropriate level of care and need for repeating neuroimaging among children with mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) complicated by intracranial injury (ICI). This study’s objective was to investigate physician practice patterns and decision-making processes for these patients in order to identify knowledge gaps and highlight avenues for future investigation.

METHODS

The authors surveyed residents, fellows, and attending physicians from the following pediatric specialties: emergency medicine; general surgery; neurosurgery; and critical care. Participants came from 10 institutions in the United States and an email list maintained by the Canadian Neurosurgical Society. The survey asked respondents to indicate management preferences for and experiences with children with mTBI complicated by ICI, focusing on an exemplar clinical vignette of a 7-year-old girl with a Glasgow Coma Scale score of 15 and a 5-mm subdural hematoma without midline shift after a fall down stairs.

RESULTS

The response rate was 52% (n = 536). Overall, 326 (61%) respondents indicated they would recommend ICU admission for the child in the vignette. However, only 62 (12%) agreed/strongly agreed that this child was at high risk of neurological decline. Half of respondents (45%; n = 243) indicated they would order a planned follow-up CT (29%; n = 155) or MRI scan (19%; n = 102), though only 64 (12%) agreed/strongly agreed that repeat neuroimaging would influence their management. Common factors that increased the likelihood of ICU admission included presence of a focal neurological deficit (95%; n = 508 endorsed), midline shift (90%; n = 480) or an epidural hematoma (88%; n = 471). However, 42% (n = 225) indicated they would admit all children with mTBI and ICI to the ICU. Notably, 27% (n = 143) of respondents indicated they had seen one or more children with mTBI and intracranial hemorrhage demonstrate a rapid neurological decline when admitted to a general ward in the last year, and 13% (n = 71) had witnessed this outcome at least twice in the past year.

CONCLUSIONS

Many physicians endorse ICU admission and repeat neuroimaging for pediatric mTBI with ICI, despite uncertainty regarding the clinical utility of those decisions. These results, combined with evidence that existing practice may provide insufficient monitoring to some high-risk children, emphasize the need for validated decision tools to aid the management of these patients.

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Jacob K. Greenberg, Donna B. Jeffe, Christopher R. Carpenter, Yan Yan, Jose A. Pineda, Angela Lumba-Brown, Martin S. Keller, Daniel Berger, Robert J. Bollo, Vijay M. Ravindra, Robert P. Naftel, Michael C. Dewan, Manish N. Shah, Erin C. Burns, Brent R. O’Neill, Todd C. Hankinson, William E. Whitehead, P. David Adelson, Mandeep S. Tamber, Patrick J. McDonald, Edward S. Ahn, William Titsworth, Alina N. West, Ross C. Brownson and David D. Limbrick Jr.

OBJECTIVE

There remains uncertainty regarding the appropriate level of care and need for repeating neuroimaging among children with mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) complicated by intracranial injury (ICI). This study’s objective was to investigate physician practice patterns and decision-making processes for these patients in order to identify knowledge gaps and highlight avenues for future investigation.

METHODS

The authors surveyed residents, fellows, and attending physicians from the following pediatric specialties: emergency medicine; general surgery; neurosurgery; and critical care. Participants came from 10 institutions in the United States and an email list maintained by the Canadian Neurosurgical Society. The survey asked respondents to indicate management preferences for and experiences with children with mTBI complicated by ICI, focusing on an exemplar clinical vignette of a 7-year-old girl with a Glasgow Coma Scale score of 15 and a 5-mm subdural hematoma without midline shift after a fall down stairs.

RESULTS

The response rate was 52% (n = 536). Overall, 326 (61%) respondents indicated they would recommend ICU admission for the child in the vignette. However, only 62 (12%) agreed/strongly agreed that this child was at high risk of neurological decline. Half of respondents (45%; n = 243) indicated they would order a planned follow-up CT (29%; n = 155) or MRI scan (19%; n = 102), though only 64 (12%) agreed/strongly agreed that repeat neuroimaging would influence their management. Common factors that increased the likelihood of ICU admission included presence of a focal neurological deficit (95%; n = 508 endorsed), midline shift (90%; n = 480) or an epidural hematoma (88%; n = 471). However, 42% (n = 225) indicated they would admit all children with mTBI and ICI to the ICU. Notably, 27% (n = 143) of respondents indicated they had seen one or more children with mTBI and intracranial hemorrhage demonstrate a rapid neurological decline when admitted to a general ward in the last year, and 13% (n = 71) had witnessed this outcome at least twice in the past year.

CONCLUSIONS

Many physicians endorse ICU admission and repeat neuroimaging for pediatric mTBI with ICI, despite uncertainty regarding the clinical utility of those decisions. These results, combined with evidence that existing practice may provide insufficient monitoring to some high-risk children, emphasize the need for validated decision tools to aid the management of these patients.