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


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.


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.


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).


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 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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Andrew B. Boucher and Joshua J. Chern

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Jason K. Chu, Brandon A. Miller, Michael P. Bazylewicz, John F. Holbrook, and Joshua J. Chern

Subarachnoid-pleural fistulas (SPFs) are rare clinical entities that occur after severe thoracic trauma or iatrogenic injury during anterolateral approaches to the spine. Treatment of these fistulas often entails open repair of the dural defect. The authors present the case of an SPF in a 2-year-old female after a penetrating injury to the chest. The diagnosis of an SPF was suspected given the high chest tube output and was confirmed with a positive β2-transferrin test of the chest tube fluid, as well as visualization of dural defects on MRI. The dural defects were successfully repaired with CT-guided percutaneous epidural injection of fibrin glue alone. This case represents the youngest pediatric patient with a traumatic SPF to be treated percutaneously. This technique can be safely used in pediatric patients, offers several advantages over open surgical repair, and could be considered as an alternative first-line therapy for the obliteration of SPFs.