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  • Author or Editor: Laurie L. Ackerman x
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Jodi L. Smith and Laurie L. Ackerman

Previous studies have shown that the correct use of car safety seats can protect infants and children from vehicular injury. Although child passenger devices are increasingly used in the US, motor vehicle crashes continue to be the leading cause of death and acquired disability in infants and children younger than 14 years of age. These events are likely related, at least in part, to the high percentage of children who are unrestrained or improperly restrained. The authors present 2 cases of severe cervical spine trauma in young children restrained in car safety seats during a motor vehicle crash: 1) a previously healthy 14-month-old girl who was improperly restrained in a forward-facing booster seat secured to the vehicle by a lap belt, and 2) a previously healthy 30-month-old girl who was a rear seat passenger restrained in a car safety seat. This study points out the unique challenges encountered in treating cervical spine injuries in infants and young children, as well as the lessons learned, and emphasizes the significance of continuing efforts to increase family and public awareness regarding the importance of appropriate child safety seat selection and use.

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Laurie L. Ackerman, Daniel H. Fulkerson, Andrew Jea and Jodi L. Smith

OBJECTIVE

Patients with shunts often interact with providers distant from their primary hospital, making it important that the parent(s)/guardian(s) is well versed in the type of shunt implanted and symptoms of malfunction/infection. This is particularly important with magnetic-sensitive programmable valves, as the use of MRI becomes more prevalent.

METHODS

Over a 6-month period, primary caregivers of 148 consecutive patients who received shunts were prospectively administered questionnaires at clinic visits. Caregivers were asked to do the following: 1) identify shunt valve name, type, and setting if applicable; 2) list symptoms of shunt malfunction/infection; and 3) indicate whether they had access to references regarding shunt type/setting, booklets from the Hydrocephalus Association, and quick reference cards with symptoms of shunt malfunction/infection. One cohort of caregivers (n = 75) was asked to carry informational cards with shunt valve/setting information (group I); this cohort was compared with another subgroup of caregivers (n = 73) not carrying cards (group II).

RESULTS

The mean (± SD) age of patients at implantation/revision was 3.71 ± 4.91 years, and the age at follow-up was 6.12 ± 5.4 years. The average time from surgery to administration of the questionnaire was 2.38 ± 3.22 years. There were 86 new shunt insertions and 62 revisions. One hundred twenty-eight caregivers (87%) could identify the type of valve (programmable vs nonprogrammable). On the other hand, only 72 caregivers (49%) could identify the valve name. Fifty-four of 73 (74%) caregivers of patients who had shunts with programmable valves could correctly identify the valve setting. One hundred caregivers (68%) had a copy of the Hydrocephalus Association booklet, and 103 (70%) had quick reference cards. Eighty caregivers (54%) had references on shunt type/setting. Most caregivers (127 [86%]) could name ≥ 3 signs/symptoms of shunt malfunction, with vomiting (61%), headache (49%), and sleeps more/lethargic (35%) most frequently reported. Caregivers of patients in group I were more likely to have cards with symptoms of shunt infection or malfunction (p = 0.015); have information cards regarding shunt type/setting (p < 0.001); and correctly identify valve type (p = 0.001), name (p < 0.001), and setting if programmable (p = 0.0016). There were no differences in ability to list symptoms of shunt malfunction or infection (p = 0.8812) or in access to Hydrocephalus Association booklets (p = 0.1288). There were no significant demographic differences between the groups, except that group I patients had a shorter time from surgery to last follow-up (1.66 vs 3.17 years; p = 0.0001).

CONCLUSIONS

Education regarding the care of patients with shunts by providing written cards with shunt type/setting and access to reference materials seems to be effective. Developing plans for guided instruction with assessment in the clinic setting of a caregiver’s knowledge is important for patient safety.

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Katarzyna Kania, Kashif Ajaz Shaikh, Ian Kainoa White and Laurie L. Ackerman

OBJECTIVE

Concerns about mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) have increased in recent years, and neurosurgical consultation is often requested for patients with radiographic abnormalities or clinical findings suspicious for mTBI. However, to the authors' knowledge, no study has used the Acute Concussion Evaluation (ACE) tool to systematically evaluate the evolution of symptoms in patients with mTBI during neurosurgical follow-up. The goal in this study was to evaluate symptom progression in pediatric patients referred for neurosurgical consultation by using the ACE, as endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective review of records of consecutive pediatric patients who had presented to the emergency department, were diagnosed with possible mTBI, and were referred for neurosurgical consultation. Outpatient follow-up for these patients included serial assessment using the ACE. Data collected included the mechanisms of the patients' injuries, symptoms, follow-up duration, and premorbid conditions that might potentially contribute to protracted recovery.

RESULTS

Of 91 patients identified with mTBI, 58 met the inclusion criteria, and 33 of these had sufficient follow-up data to be included in the study. Mechanisms of injury included sports injury (15 patients), isolated falls (10), and motor vehicle collisions (8). Ages ranged from 5 to 17 years (mean age 11.6 years), and 29 of the 33 patients were male. Six patients had preinjury developmental and/or psychiatric diagnoses such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Seventeen had negative findings on head CT scans. The first follow-up evaluation occurred at a mean of 30 days after injury. The mean number of symptoms reported on the ACE inventory at first follow-up were 3.2; 12 patients were symptom free. Patients with positive head CT findings required longer follow-up: these patients needed 14.59 weeks, versus 7.87 weeks of follow-up in patients with negative findings on head CT scans (p < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS

The data suggest that patients with mTBI, particularly those with developmental and/or psychiatric comorbidities and concurrent cerebral or extracranial injury, often report symptoms for several weeks after their initial injury. Serial ACE assessment permits systematic identification of patients who are experiencing continued symptoms, leading to appropriate patient management and referral.

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Kyung Shin Kang, Jeff Lastfogel, Laurie L. Ackerman, Andrew Jea, Alexander G. Robling and Sunil S. Tholpady

OBJECTIVE

Cranial defects can result from trauma, infection, congenital malformations, and iatrogenic causes and represent a surgical challenge. The current standard of care is cranioplasty, with either autologous or allogeneic material. In either case, the intrinsic vascularity of the surrounding tissues allows for bone healing. The objective of this study was to determine if mechanotransductive gene manipulation would yield non–weight-bearing bone regeneration in a critical size calvarial defect in mice.

METHODS

A mouse model of Sost deletion in Sost knockout (KO) mice was created in which the osteocytes do not express sclerostin. A critical size calvarial defect (4 mm in diameter) was surgically created in the parietal bone in 8-week-old wild-type (n = 8) and Sost KO (n = 8) male mice. The defects were left undisturbed (no implant or scaffold) to simulate a traumatic calvariectomy model. Eight weeks later, the animals were examined at necropsy by planimetry, histological analysis of new bone growth, and micro-CT scanning of bone thickness.

RESULTS

Defects created in wild-type mice did not fill with bone over the study period of 2 months. Genetic downregulation of sclerostin yielded animals that were able to regenerate 40% of the initial critical size defect area 8 weeks after surgery. A thin layer of bone covered a significant portion of the original defect in all Sost KO animals. A statistically significant increase in bone volume (p < 0.05) was measured in Sost KO mice using radiodensitometric analysis. Immunohistochemical analysis also confirmed that this bone regeneration occurred through the Wnt pathway and originated from the edge of the defect; BMP signaling did not appear to be affected by sclerostin.

CONCLUSIONS

Mechanical loading is an important mechanism of bone formation in the cranial skeleton and is poorly understood. This is partially due to the fact that it is difficult to load bone in the craniomaxillofacial skeleton. This study suggests that modulation of the Wnt pathway, as is able to be done with monoclonal antibodies, is a potentially efficacious method for bone regeneration that requires further study.

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Laurie L. Ackerman, Timothy C. Ryken, G. Patrick Kealey and Vincent C. Traynelis

High-voltage electrical injuries have been reported to cause a plethora of neurological complications including cognitive, motor, and sensory deficits in an immediate or delayed fashion. In this setting, new-onset symptomatic hydrocephalus requiring CSF shunt placement has not been described. The authors present the case of an 18-year-old man who sustained a high-voltage electrical injury with a calvarial contact point that required emergency CSF diversion within hours of injury and subsequently required placement of a lumboperitoneal shunt. Management of the open calvarial wound, which required rotational flap reconstruction, and the need for ongoing CSF diversion required care and a team approach.

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Franklin Westhout, Anton Hasso, Mehrdad Jalili, Behnoosh Afghani, William Armstrong, Chiedozie Nwagwu and Laurie L. Ackerman

✓ Lemierre syndrome is an extremely rare complication of mild-to-moderate pharyngeal infections. The authors present an unusual case of Lemierre syndrome in a 16-year-old boy with cavernous sinus thrombosis and right internal carotid artery narrowing without neurological sequelae, right subdural empyema, and cerebritis in the right temporal and occipital lobes. Neuroimaging also demonstrated right jugular vein thrombosis. Cultures of samples from the blood proved positive for the presence of Fusobacterium necrophorum. The patient underwent unilateral tonsillectomy, drainage of the peritonsillar abscess, and a myringotomy on the right side. Postoperatively the patient was treated conservatively with antibiotic therapy resulting in an excellent outcome.

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Neal B. Patel, Matthew A. Hazzard, Laurie L. Ackerman and Eric M. Horn

Unstable pediatric cervical spine injuries present significant challenges in terms of fixation. Given the smaller cervical vertebral bodies in the preschool-aged population, commercially available pediatric cervical fixation instrumentation may be unsuitable because of the inappropriately large size of the screws and plates. The authors describe a 2-year-old girl who sustained an unstable C6–7 distraction injury during a motor vehicle accident. Because of the small size of her vertebral bodies, standard cervical spine instrumentation was not feasible, and posterior wiring alone was believed to be insufficient because of the complete distraction of all 3 spinal columns. The patient was taken to the operating room where craniofacial plates with an inherent locking mechanism were used to circumferentially stabilize the cervical spine. Follow-up examination 6 months postoperatively demonstrated stable cervical spine alignment and fusion with no evidence of the failure of either the anterior or posterior hardware. The use of craniofacial miniplates with an intrinsic locking mechanism represents a superior alternative for both anterior and posterior cervical fixations when spinal instrumentation is needed in the pediatric age group.

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Melinda A. Costa, Laurie L. Ackerman, Sunil S. Tholpady, S. Travis Greathouse, Youssef Tahiri and Roberto L. Flores

Patients with multisutural craniosynostosis can develop anomalous venous connections between the intracranial sinuses and cutaneous venous system through enlarged emissary veins. Cranial vault remodeling in this subset of patients carries the risk of massive intraoperative blood loss and/or occlusion of collateral draining veins leading to intracranial venous hypertension and raised intracranial pressure, increasing the morbidity of cranial expansion. The authors report the use of spring-mediated expansion as a technique for cranial reconstruction in which the collateral intracranial venous drainage system can be preserved.

A patient with bilateral lambdoid, sagittal, and unicoronal synostosis presented for cranial reconstruction. A tracheostomy and ventriculoperitoneal shunt were placed prior to intervention. At the time of reconstruction, a Luckenschadel skull abnormality and Chiari malformation Type I were present. A preoperative CT venogram demonstrated large collateral superficial occipital veins, small bilateral internal jugular veins, and hypoplastic jugular foramina. Collateral flow from the transverse and sigmoid sinuses through large occipital emissary veins was seen. Spring-mediated cranial vault expansion was performed with care to preserve the large collateral veins at the occipital midline. Four springs were placed at each lambdoid and the posterior and anterior sagittal sutures following 1-cm strip suturectomies. Removal of the springs was performed 2 months postoperatively.

Cranial vault expansion was performed without disturbing the aberrant intracranial/extracranial venous collateral system. Estimated blood loss was 150 ml. A CT scan obtained 3 months postoperatively showed resolution of the Luckenschadel deformity and a 40% volumetric increase in the skull compared with the preoperative CT.

Patients with anomalous venous drainage patterns and multisutural synostosis can undergo spring-mediated cranial vault expansion while preserving the major emissary veins draining the intracranial sinuses. Risks of blood loss, intracranial venous hypertension, and increased intracranial pressure may be decreased compared with traditional techniques of repair.

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Charles G. Kulwin, Neal B. Patel, Laurie L. Ackerman, Jodi L. Smith, Joel C. Boaz and Daniel H. Fulkerson

Object

The surgical management of patients with symptoms of tethered cord syndrome (TCS) who lack significant radiographic abnormalities is controversial. One potential MRI marker for TCS is a spinal cord syrinx or syringomyelia. Alternatively, a syrinx may be a benign and incidental finding. In this report the authors evaluated a highly selected cohort of patients with symptoms of TCS with minimal radiographic abnormalities other than syringomyelia. They analyzed clinical and radiographic outcomes after tethered cord release (TCR).

Methods

A retrospective review of data from 16 children who met the study inclusion criteria was performed. All patients had been surgically treated at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, Indiana, between 2006 and 2011. All children had clinical symptoms of TCS as well as available pre- and postoperative MRI data.

Results

The most common presentation (12 [75%] of 16 patients) was urinary dysfunction, defined as symptoms of urgency or incontinence with abnormal urodynamic studies. Clinical follow-up data were available in 11 of these 12 patients. All 11 had improvement in symptoms at an average follow-up of 17 months. Seven (87.5%) of 8 patients presenting with back or leg pain had improvement. Three patients had progressive scoliosis; 2 had stabilization of the curve or mild improvement, and 1 patient had worsening deformity.

Radiographic follow-up data were obtained an average of 14.5 months after surgery. Twelve patients (75%) had stable syringomyelia after TCR. Four patients showed improvement, with 2 having complete radiographic resolution.

Conclusions

Highly selected patients with symptoms of TCS did very well clinically. Patients with abnormal urodynamic studies, pain, and gait disturbances showed a high rate of symptomatic improvement. However, a smaller percentage of patients had radiographic improvement of the syrinx. Therefore, the authors suggest that the decision to perform TCR should be based on clinical symptoms in this population. Symptomatic improvement was not necessarily related to radiographic resolution of the syrinx.

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Andrea G. Scherer, Ian K. White, Kashif A. Shaikh, Jodi L. Smith, Laurie L. Ackerman and Daniel H. Fulkerson

OBJECTIVE

The risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE) from deep venous thrombosis (DVT) is significant in neurosurgical patients. VTE is considered a leading cause of preventable hospital deaths and preventing DVT is a closely monitored quality metric, often tied to accreditation, hospital ratings, and reimbursement. Adult protocols include prophylaxis with anticoagulant medications. Children’s hospitals may adopt adult protocols, although the incidence of DVT and the risk or efficacy of treatment is not well defined. The incidence of DVT in children is likely less than in adults, although there is very little prospectively collected information. Most consider the risk of DVT to be extremely low in children 12 years of age or younger. However, this consideration is based on tradition and retrospective reviews of trauma databases. In this study, the authors prospectively evaluated pediatric patients undergoing a variety of elective neurosurgical procedures and performed Doppler ultrasound studies before and after surgery.

METHODS

A total of 100 patients were prospectively enrolled in this study. All of the patients were between the ages of 1 month and 12 years and were undergoing elective neurosurgical procedures. The 91 patients who completed the protocol received a bilateral lower-extremity Doppler ultrasound examination within 48 hours prior to surgery. Patients did not receive either medical or mechanical DVT prophylaxis during or after surgery. The ultrasound examination was repeated within 72 hours after surgery. An independent, board-certified radiologist evaluated all sonograms. We prospectively collected data, including potential risk factors, details of surgery, and details of the clinical course. All patients were followed clinically for at least 1 year.

RESULTS

There was no clinical or ultrasound evidence of DVT or VTE in any of the 91 patients. There was no clinical evidence of VTE in the 9 patients who did not complete the protocol.

CONCLUSIONS

In this prospective study, no DVTs were found in 91 patients evaluated by ultrasound and 9 patients followed clinically. While the study is underpowered to give a definitive incidence, the data suggest that the risk of DVT and VTE is very low in children undergoing elective neurosurgical procedures. Prophylactic protocols designed for adults may not apply to pediatric patients.

Clinical trial registration no.: NCT02037607 (clinicaltrials.gov)