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Iain R. Chambers and Fenella J. Kirkham

Head injury is a major cause of death and disability in children. Despite advances in resuscitation, emergency care, intensive care monitoring, and clinical practices, there are few data demonstrating the predictive value of certain physiological variables regarding outcome in this patient population. Mean arterial blood pressure (MABP), intracranial pressure (ICP), and cerebral perfusion pressure (CPP = MABP − ICP) are routinely monitored in patients in many neurological intensive care units throughout the world, but there is little evidence indicating that advances in care have been matched with corresponding improvements in outcome.

Nonetheless, there is evidence that hypotension immediately following head injury is predictive of early death, and many patients with these features die with clinical signs of brain herniation caused by intracranial hypertension. Furthermore, available data indicate that a minimal and a mean CPP measured during intensive care are good predictors of outcome in survivors, but a target threshold to improve outcome has yet to be defined.

Some medical management strategies can have detrimental effects, and there is now a good case for undertaking a controlled trial of immediate or delayed craniectomy. Independent outcome in children following severe head injury is associated with higher levels of CPP. The ability to tolerate different levels of CPP may be related to age, and therefore any such surgical trial would need a carefully defined protocol so that the potential benefit of such a treatment is maximized.

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Iain Robert Chambers, Lynne Treadwell and A. David Mendelow

Object. Intracranial pressure (ICP) and cerebral perfusion pressure (CPP) are frequently monitored in severely head injured patients. To establish which one (ICP or CPP) is more predictive of outcome and to examine whether there are significant threshold levels in the determination of outcome, receiver—operating characteristic (ROC) curves were used to analyze data in a large series of head-injured patients.

Methods. Data were obtained from a total of 291 severely head injured patients (207 adults and 84 children). Outcome was categorized as either independent (good recovery or moderate disability) or poor (severely disabled, vegetative, or dead) by using the Glasgow Outcome Scale; patients were also grouped according to the Marshall computerized tomography scan classification.

Conclusions. The maximum value of a 2-minute rolling average of ICP readings (defined as ICPmax) and the minimum value of the CPP readings (CPPmin) were then used to calculate the sensitivity and specificity of the ROC curves over a range of values. Using ROC curves, a threshold value for CPPmin of 55 mm Hg and for ICPmax of 35 mm Hg appear to be the best predictors in adults. For children the levels appear to be 43 to 45 mm Hg for CPPmin and 35 mm Hg for ICPmax. Higher levels of CPPmin seem important in adults with mass lesions. These CPP thresholds (45 mm Hg for children and 55 mm Hg for adults) are lower than previously predicted and may be clinically important, especially in children, in whom a lower blood pressure level is normal. Also, CPP management at higher levels may be more important in adults with mass lesions. A larger observational series would improve the accuracy of these predictions.

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R. Shane Tubbs, Olivia J. Rompala, Ketan Verma, Martin M. Mortazavi, Brion Benninger, Marios Loukas and M. Rene Chambers

Object

Although the uncovertebral region is neurosurgically relevant, relatively little is reported in the literature, specifically the neurosurgical literature, regarding its anatomy. Therefore, the present study aimed at further elucidation of this region's morphological features.

Methods

Morphometry was performed on the uncinate processes of 40 adult human skeletons. Additionally, range of motion testing was performed, with special attention given to the uncinate processes. Finally, these excrescences were classified based on their encroachment on the adjacent intervertebral foramen.

Results

The height of these processes was on average 4.8 mm, and there was an inverse relationship between height of the uncinate process and the size of the intervertebral foramen. Degeneration of the vertebral body (VB) did not correlate with whether the uncinate process effaced the intervertebral foramen. The taller uncinate processes tended to be located below C-3 vertebral levels, and their average anteroposterior length was 8 mm. The average thickness was found to be 4.9 mm for the base and 1.8 mm for the apex. There were no significant differences found between vertebral level and thickness of the uncinate process. Arthritic changes of the cervical VBs did not necessarily deform the uncinate processes. With axial rotation, the intervertebral discs were noted to be driven into the ipsilateral uncinate process. With lateral flexion, the ipsilateral uncinate processes aided the ipsilateral facet joints in maintaining the integrity of the ipsilateral intervertebral foramen.

Conclusions

A good appreciation for the anatomy of the uncinate processes is important to the neurosurgeon who operates on the spine. It is hoped that the data presented herein will decrease complications during surgical approaches to the cervical spine.