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  • Author or Editor: Joshua J. Chern x
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Hector E. James

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Mohammadali M. Shoja and Joshua J. Chern

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Samir Sarda, Mike K. Moore and Joshua J. Chern

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Andrew Reisner, Matthew F. Gary, Joshua J. Chern and J. Damien Grattan-Smith

Spinal cord infarctions following seemingly innocuous trauma in children are rare, devastating events. In the majority of these cases, the pathophysiology is enigmatic. The authors present 3 cases of pediatric spinal cord infarction that followed minor trauma. An analysis of the clinical, radiographic, and laboratory features of these cases suggests that thromboembolism of the nucleus pulposus into the spinal cord microcirculation is the likely mechanism. A review of the human and veterinary literature supports this notion. To the authors' knowledge, this is the largest pediatric series of myelopathy due to thromboembolism of the nucleus pulposus reported to date, and it is the first report of this condition occurring in an infant.

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Joshua J. Chern, Andrew J. Tsung, William Humphries, Raymond Sawaya and Frederick F. Lang

Object

Intracranial hemorrhage (ICH) is a frequent complication found in leukemia patients with thrombocytopenia. At the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, when a leukemia patient is found to have ICH, a platelet transfusion is generally recommended until 50,000/μl is reached. The authors examine the feasibility and outcome of their intervention strategy in this study.

Methods

Records were reviewed from 76 consecutive leukemia patients with newly diagnosed ICH at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center from January 1, 2007, to December 31, 2009. Variables of interest included age, platelet count at presentation, leukemia subtype, history of trauma, Glasgow Coma Scale score at presentation, whether the 50,000/μl goal was reached after transfusion, and whether the patient was a transfusion responder (platelet count increase > 2000/μl/unit transfused). Outcome parameters were mortality rates at 72 hours and 30 days and imaging-documented hemorrhage progression.

Results

Thrombocytopenia was prevalent at the time of presentation (68 of 76 patients had platelet levels < 50,000/μl at presentation). Despite an aggressive transfusion protocol, only 24 patients reached the 50,000/μl target after an average of 16 units of transfusion. Death due to ICH occurred in 15 patients within the first 72 hours (mortality rate 19.7%). Death correlated with the presenting Glasgow Coma Scale score (p = 0.0075) but not with other transfusion-related parameters. A significant mortality rate was again observed after 30 days (32.7%). The 30-day mortality rate, however, was largely attributable to non-ICH related causes and correlated with patient age (p = 0.032) and whether the patient was a transfusion responder (p = 0.022). Reaching and maintaining a platelet count > 50,000/μl did not positively correlate with the 30-day mortality rate (p = 0.392 and 0.475, respectively).

Conclusions

Platelet transfusion in the setting of ICH in leukemia patients is undoubtedly necessary, but whether the transfusion threshold should be 50,000/μl remains unclear. Factors other than thrombocytopenia likely contribute to the overall poor prognosis.

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Andrew B. Boucher and Joshua J. Chern

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Steven W. Hwang, Loyola V. Gressot, Joshua J. Chern, Katherine Relyea and Andrew Jea

Object

Occipitocervical stabilization in the pediatric age group remains a challenge because of the regional anatomy, poor occipital bone purchase, and, in some instances, significant thinning of the occipital bone. Multiple bicortical fixation points to the occipital bone may be required to increase construct rigidity. The authors evaluated the complications of bicortical occipital screw placement in children with occipital fusion constructs.

Methods

The records of 20 consecutive pediatric patients who had undergone occipitocervical fusion between September 1, 2007, and November 30, 2010, at Texas Children's Hospital were reviewed.

Results

The patients consisted of 10 girls and 10 boys, ranging in age from 10 months to 16 years (mean ± SD, 7.7 ± 5.1 years). Two patients were lost to follow-up, 2 died for reasons unrelated to the surgery, and the remaining patients had at least 3 months of follow-up (mean 14 ± 11.8 months) with evaluation via dynamic radiography and CT. Four patients experienced 8 complications: 2 CSF leaks, 2 vigorous venous bleedings, worsening of quadriparesis, wound infection, radiographic pseudarthrosis, and transient dysphagia. Among 114 screws, there were 2 cases of intraoperative dural venous sinus injury and 2 cases of intraoperative CSF leakage, without clinical sequelae from these complications. Only 1 case of radiographic pseudarthrosis was identified in a patient with skeletal dysplasia and a prior failed C1–2 posterior arthrodesis. There were no difficulties with wound healing because of prominent occipital instrumentation, and there was only 1 wound infection.

Conclusions

Data in this report confirm that including bicortical occipital screw placement in occipitocervical constructs in children may result in a high fusion rate but at the cost of a notable complication rate.