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Matheus Fernando Manzolli Ballestero, Luciano Furlanetti, and Ricardo Santos de Oliveira

OBJECTIVES

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a potentially severe respiratory illness that has threatened humanity globally. The pediatric neurosurgery practice differs from that of adults in that it treats children in various stages of physical and psychological development and contemplates diseases that do not exist in other areas. The aim of this study was to identify the level of knowledge and readiness of the healthcare providers, as well as to evaluate new preventive practices that have been introduced, psychological concerns, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on pediatric neurosurgical units in Brazil.

METHODS

Pediatric neurosurgeons were given an online questionnaire developed by the Brazilian Society of Pediatric Neurosurgery to evaluate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their clinical practice.

RESULTS

Of a cohort of 110 active members of the Brazilian Society of Pediatric Neurosurgery, 76 completed the survey (69%). Ninety-six percent were aware of the correct use of and indication for the types of personal protective equipment in clinical and surgical practices, but only 73.7% of them had unrestricted access to this equipment. Ninety-eight percent of participants agreed or strongly agreed that the pandemic had affected their pediatric neurosurgical practice. The COVID-19 pandemic interfered with outpatient care in 88% of the centers, it affected neurosurgical activity in 90.7%, and it led to the cancellation of elective neurosurgical procedures in 57.3%. Concerning the impact of COVID-19 on surgical activity, 9.2% of the centers had less than 25% of the clinical practice affected, 46.1% had 26%–50% of their activity reduced, 35.5% had a 51%–75% reduction, and 9.2% had more than 75% of their surgical work cancelled or postponed. Sixty-three percent affirmed that patients had been tested for COVID-19 before surgery. Regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of those interviewed, 3.9% reported fear and anxiety with panic episodes, 7.9% had worsening of previous anxiety symptoms, 60.5% reported occasional fear, 10.5% had sadness and some depressive symptoms, and 2.6% reported depressive symptoms.

CONCLUSIONS

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed unprecedented challenges to healthcare services worldwide, including neurosurgical units. Medical workers, pediatric neurosurgeons included, should be aware of safety measures and follow the recommendations of local healthcare organizations, preventing and controlling the disease. Attention should be given to the psychological burden of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in healthcare workers, which carries a high risk of anxiety and depression.

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Luciano Furlanetti, Jonathan Ellenbogen, Hortensia Gimeno, Laura Ainaga, Vijay Narbad, Harutomo Hasegawa, Jean-Pierre Lin, Keyoumars Ashkan, and Richard Selway

OBJECTIVE

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is an established treatment for pediatric dystonia. The accuracy of electrode implantation is multifactorial and remains a challenge in this age group, mainly due to smaller anatomical targets in very young patients compared to adults, and also due to anatomical abnormalities frequently associated with some etiologies of dystonia. Data on the accuracy of robot-assisted DBS surgery in children are limited. The aim of the current paper was to assess the accuracy of robot-assisted implantation of DBS leads in a series of patients with childhood-onset dystonia.

METHODS

Forty-five children with dystonia undergoing implantation of DBS leads under general anesthesia between 2017 and 2019 were included. Robot-assisted stereotactic implantation of the DBS leads was performed. The final position of the electrodes was verified with an intraoperative 3D scanner (O-arm). Coordinates of the planned electrode target and actual electrode position were obtained and compared, looking at the radial error, depth error, absolute error, and directional error, as well as the euclidean distance. Functional assessment data prospectively collected by a multidisciplinary pediatric complex motor disorders team were analyzed with regard to motor skills, individualized goal achievement, and patients’ and caregivers’ expectations.

RESULTS

A total of 90 DBS electrodes were implanted and 48.5% of the patients were female. The mean age was 11.0 ± 0.6 years (range 3–18 years). All patients received bilateral DBS electrodes into the globus pallidus internus. The median absolute errors in x-, y-, and z-axes were 0.85 mm (range 0.00–3.25 mm), 0.75 mm (range 0.05–2.45 mm), and 0.75 mm (range 0.00–3.50 mm), respectively. The median euclidean distance from the target to the actual electrode position was 1.69 ± 0.92 mm, and the median radial error was 1.21 ± 0.79. The robot-assisted technique was easily integrated into the authors’ surgical practice, improving accuracy and efficiency, and reducing surgical time significantly along the learning curve. No major perioperative complications occurred.

CONCLUSIONS

Robot-assisted stereotactic implantation of DBS electrodes in the pediatric age group is a safe and accurate surgical method. Greater accuracy was present in this cohort in comparison to previous studies in which conventional stereotactic frame-based techniques were used. Robotic DBS surgery and neuroradiological advances may result in further improvement in surgical targeting and, consequently, in better clinical outcome in the pediatric population.