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Robert A. McGovern, Kathleen M. Kelly, Andrew K. Chan, Nicholas J. Morrissey and Guy M. McKhann II


Ventriculoatrial (VA) shunting is rarely used for patients with normal-pressure hydrocephalus (NPH), likely due to surgeon technical preference and case reports indicating cardiopulmonary complications. However, these complications have typically been limited to adults in whom VA shunts had been placed when they were children. Few studies have directly compared VA shunting to ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunting in cases of NPH.


The authors retrospectively analyzed all NPH patients treated by a single surgeon at their center from January 2002 through December 2011. Thirty patients were treated with VA shunts (14 male) and 157 with VP shunts (86 male). The patients' mean age (± SD) at surgery was 73.7 ± 9.4 years for VA shunting and 76.0 ± 8.2 years for VP shunting; the median durations of follow-up were 42.0 months (IQR 19.2–63.6 months) and 34.2 months (IQR 15.8–67.5), respectively. Statistical analysis was performed using chi-square tests and Wilcoxon rank-sum tests.


Perioperative and postoperative complications for VA and VP shunting cohorts, respectively, included distal revision (2.7% vs 6.6%, p = 0.45), proximal revision (2.7% vs 2.5%, p = 0.97), and postoperative seizure (2.7% vs 1.5%, p = 0.62). Shunt drainage–related subdural hematomas/hygromas developed in 8.1%/27.0% of VA shunt–treated patients versus 6.6%/26.4% of VP shunt–treated patients (p = 0.76/0.98) and were nearly always successfully managed with programmable-valve adjustment. Symptomatic intracerebral hemorrhage (1.5%) and shunt infection (2.0%) were only observed in those who underwent VP shunting. Of note, no cardiovascular complications were observed in any patient, and there were no cases of distal occlusion of the VA shunt.


The authors found no significant differences in complication rates between VA and VP shunting, and VA shunting was not associated with any cardiopulmonary complications. Thus, in the authors' experience, VA shunting is at least as safe as VP shunting for treating NPH.

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Benjamin C. Kennedy, Kathleen M. Kelly, Michelle Q. Phan, Samuel S. Bruce, Michael M. McDowell, Richard C. E. Anderson and Neil A. Feldstein


Symptomatic pediatric Chiari malformation Type I (CM-I) is most often treated with posterior fossa decompression (PFD), but controversy exists over whether the dura needs to be opened during PFD. While dural opening as a part of PFD has been suggested to result in a higher rate of resolution of CM symptoms, it has also been shown to lead to more frequent complications. In this paper, the authors present the largest reported series of outcomes after PFD without dural opening surgery, as well as identify risk factors for recurrence.


The authors performed a retrospective review of 156 consecutive pediatric patients in whom the senior authors performed PFD without dural opening from 2003 to 2013. Patient demographics, clinical symptoms and signs, radiographic findings, intraoperative ultrasound results, and neuromonitoring findings were reviewed. Univariate and multivariate regression analyses were performed to determine risk factors for recurrence of symptoms and the need for reoperation.


Over 90% of patients had a good clinical outcome, with improvement or resolution of their symptoms at last follow-up (mean 32 months). There were no major complications. The mean length of hospital stay was 2.0 days. In a multivariate regression model, partial C-2 laminectomy was an independent risk factor associated with reoperation (p = 0.037). Motor weakness on presentation was also associated with reoperation but only with trend-level significance (p = 0.075). No patient with < 8 mm of tonsillar herniation required reoperation.


The vast majority (> 90%) of children with symptomatic CM-I will have improvement or resolution of symptoms after a PFD without dural opening. A non–dural opening approach avoids major complications. While no patient with tonsillar herniation < 8 mm required reoperation, children with tonsillar herniation at or below C-2 have a higher risk for failure when this approach is used.

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Benjamin C. Kennedy, Taylor B. Nelp, Kathleen M. Kelly, Michelle Q. Phan, Samuel S. Bruce, Michael M. McDowell, Neil A. Feldstein and Richard C. E. Anderson


Chiari malformation Type I (CM-I) is associated with a syrinx in 25%–85% of patients. Although posterior fossa decompression (PFD) without dural opening is an accepted treatment option for children with symptomatic CM-I, many surgeons prefer to open the dura if a syrinx exists. The purpose of this study was to investigate the frequency and timing of syrinx resolution in children undergoing PFD without dural opening for CM-I.


A retrospective review of 68 consecutive pediatric patients with CM-I and syringomyelia who underwent PFD without dural opening was conducted. Patient demographics, presenting symptoms and signs, radiographic findings, and intraoperative ultrasound and neuromonitoring findings were studied as well as the patients’ clinical and radiographic follow-up.


During the mean radiographic follow-up period of 32 months, 70% of the syringes improved. Syrinx improvement occurred at a mean of 31 months postoperatively. All patients experienced symptom improvement within the 1st year, despite only 26% of patients showing radiographic improvement during that period. Patients presenting with sensory symptoms or motor weakness had a higher likelihood of having radiographic syrinx improvement postoperatively.


In children with CM-I and a syrinx undergoing PFD without dural opening, syrinx resolution occurs in approximately 70% of patients. Radiographic improvement of the syrinx is delayed, but this does not correlate temporally with symptom improvement. Sensory symptoms or motor weakness on presentation are associated with syrinx resolution after surgery.