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R. Shane Tubbs, Matthew J. McGirt and W. Jerry Oakes

Object. The aim of this study was to present the long-term findings of a surgical series of pediatric patients with Chiari I malformations.

Methods. One hundred thirty symptomatic pediatric patients with Chiari I malformations underwent posterior fossa decompression. The age in this group of patients ranged from 2 months to 20 years (mean 11 years). The length of the hospital stay extended from 2 to 7 days (mean 2.7 days), and follow up was from 3 months to 15 years (mean 4.2 years). Patients most often presented with headache/neck pain (38%) and scoliosis (18%). Examples of associated diagnoses included neurofibromatosis Type 1 (5.5%), hydrocephalus (11%), idiopathic growth hormone deficiency (5.5%), and Klippel—Feil anomaly (5%). Syringes were present in 58% of patients. Seventeen percent of patients had caudal displacement of the brainstem and fourth ventricle. Postoperative relief of preoperative pathologies was experienced in 83% of patients. Of the most common presenting symptoms—headache/neck pain and scoliosis—12 and 17%, respectively, were not alleviated postoperatively. Complications occurred in 2.3% of this group and included the development of acute hydrocephalus postoperatively and severe life-threatening signs of brainstem compression that necessitated a transoral odontoidectomy. Nine patients have had to undergo repeated operations for continued symptoms or persistent large syringes. During surgery 10 patients (7.7%) were found to have arachnoid veils occluding the fourth ventricular outlet, and nine of these had syringomyelia. In our experience almost all syringes will stabilize or improve with posterior fossa decompression and duraplasty.

Conclusions. The authors believe this to be the largest reported series of pediatric patients who have undergone posterior fossa decompression for Chiari I malformations.

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Ziya L. Gokaslan and Matthew J. McGirt

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Matthew J. McGirt, Shlomi Constantini and George I. Jallo


Postoperative progressive spinal deformity often complicates functional outcome after resection of pediatric intramedullary spinal cord tumors (IMSCTs). The authors propose a preoperative grading scale that correlates with the postoperative development of progressive spinal deformity requiring subsequent fusion.


The data obtained in 164 patients who underwent resection of an IMSCT at a single institution were retrospectively collected and analyzed to determine the development of progressive spinal deformity requiring fusion. A grading scale (range of scores I–V) was created based on the presence or absence of 4 preoperative variables: preoperative scoliosis, involvement of the thorocolumbar junction, age < 13 years, and number of surgeries for an IMSCT. The grading scale was then retrospectively applied to this series of 164 children to assess the correlation of variables with subsequent spinal deformity.


Nine patients presented with Grade I status, 41 patients with Grade II, 58 patients with Grade III, 44 patients with Grade IV, and 12 patients with Grade V. Overall, 44 patients (27%) developed progressive spinal deformity requiring fusion at a mean follow-up of 5 years after surgery. A higher preoperative grade was associated with an increasing need for subsequent fusion for progressive spinal deformity (Grade I [0%], Grade II [5%], Grade III [26%], Grade IV [40%], and Grade V status [75%]).


Application of this grading scheme to a series of resected pediatric IMSCTs has demonstrated its correlation with the incidence of postoperative progressive spinal deformity requiring fusion. The application of a standardized grading scheme will assist in the process of surgical decision making and postoperative evaluation.

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John R. W. Kestle

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Eric W. Amundson, Matthew J. McGirt and Alessandro Olivi

✓ The authors report on the technique and results of stereotactic biopsy for intrinsic lateral pontine and medial cerebellar lesions via a contralateral, transfrontal, extraventricular approach. Multiplanar stereotactic magnetic resonance imaging was used to plan an intraparenchymal approach, thus limiting the number of crossed pial surfaces to one and eliminating the need to cross ependymal surfaces. After the administration of a local anesthetic agent with light intravenous sedation, six patients harboring intrinsic lateral pontine lesions underwent biopsies via this intraparenchymal approach with 100% diagnostic yield and no operative morbidity. In comparison to the ipsilateral transfrontal approach, the contralateral approach laterally expands the infratentorial area accessible during biopsy to include the lateral pons and middle cerebellar peduncle. The contralateral, transfrontal, extraventricular approach is a useful, straight-forward and safe alternative to the suboccipital transcerebellar and ipsilateral, transfrontal, transtentorial routes for reaching lesions of the lateral pons and middle cerebellar peduncle.

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John R. W. Kestle

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Anthony L. Asher, Matthew J. McGirt and Zoher Ghogawala

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W. Peter Vandertop

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Benjamin D. Kuhns, Daniel Lubelski, Matthew D. Alvin, Jason S. Taub, Matthew J. McGirt, Edward C. Benzel and Thomas E. Mroz


Infections following spine surgery negatively affect patient quality of life (QOL) and impose a significant financial burden on the health care system. Postoperative wound infections occur at higher rates following dorsal cervical procedures than ventral procedures. Quantifying the health outcomes and costs associated with infections following dorsal cervical procedures may help to guide treatment strategies to minimize the deleterious consequences of these infections. Therefore, the goals of this study were to determine the cost and QOL outcomes affecting patients who developed deep wound infections following subaxial dorsal cervical spine fusions.


The authors identified 22 (4.0%) of 551 patients undergoing dorsal cervical fusions who developed deep wound infections requiring surgical debridement. These patients were individually matched with control patients who did not develop infections. Health outcomes were assessed using the EQ-5D, Pain Disability Questionnaire (PDQ), Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9), and visual analog scale (VAS). QOL outcome measures were collected preoperatively and after 6 and 12 months. Health resource utilization was recorded from patient electronic medical records over an average follow-up of 18 months. Direct costs were estimated using Medicare national payment amounts, and indirect costs were based on patients' missed workdays and income.


No significant differences in preoperative QOL scores were found between the 2 cohorts. At 6 months postsurgery, the noninfection cohort had significant pre- to postoperative improvement in EQ-5D (p = 0.02), whereas the infection cohort did not (p = 0.2). The noninfection cohort also had a significantly higher 6-month postoperative EQ-5D scores than the infection cohort (p = 0.04). At 1 year postsurgery, there was no significant difference in EQ-5D scores between the groups. Health care–associated costs for the infection cohort were significantly higher ($16,970 vs $7658; p < 0.0001). Indirect costs for the infection cohort and the noninfection cohort were $6495 and $2756, respectively (p = 0.03). Adjusted for inflation, the total costs for the infection cohort were $21,778 compared with $9159 for the noninfection cohort, reflecting an average cost of $12,619 associated with developing a postoperative deep wound infection (p < 0.0001).


Dorsal cervical infections temporarily decrease patient QOL postoperatively, but with no long-term impact; they do, however, dramatically increase the cost of care. Knowledge of the financial burden of wound infections following dorsal cervical fusion may stimulate the development and use of improved prophylactic and therapeutic techniques to manage this serious complication.