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Michael H. Handler and Brian Callahan

Object

Ventriculoperitoneal shunts (VPSs) are commonly placed into the peritoneal cavity via a small laparotomy or blindly by using a split trocar. Larger patients require larger incisions, and placement is made more difficult by previous abdominal operations and obesity. For general surgeons, laparoscopy has become the first-choice approach for abdominal procedures, using 1 or several very small incisions. The authors discuss their pediatric series of patients in whom laparoscopy was used to place distal shunt catheters.

Methods

The authors reviewed the medical records accrued over a 9-year period, noting VPS operations performed using laparoscopy. Complications, morbidity, and alterations of planned management were noted.

Results

One hundred thirty-seven VPS operations in 126 patients were identified, 92 performed by the senior author (M.H.H.) alone and 45 conducted with the assistance of a general surgeon. A second port was placed for lysis of adhesions or retrieval of old catheters in 7 cases. There were no immediate complications. The infection rate was 6.6%, comparable with the institutional norm (6.3%) over an 8-year period. There were 3 early failures due to abdominal malabsorption without infection. Five catheters later broke at the level where they were introduced into the abdomen due to shearing by the abdominal trocar.

Conclusions

Laparoscopic placement of distal VPS catheters is relatively safe and allows insertion via inconspicuous incisions. It can allow for inspection or lysis of adhesions and removal of foreign bodies, help determine if and where the abdomen can absorb shunt fluid, and make VPS surgery in the obese patient easier.

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Marlin Dustin Richardson and Michael H. Handler

Object

Cerebrospinal fluid diversion to the pleural space has employed various methods to insert the distal catheter into the pleural space. The authors report on a minimally invasive method of pleural catheter insertion that they have developed and have used safely in a small series of patients.

Methods

Pleural shunt catheters were inserted using a split trochar into the pleural space (technique described in further detail in the article). All cases over the previous 10 years in which this technique was employed were reviewed from the existing electronic medical records. Patient age at insertion, sex, reason for hydrocephalus, early and late complications, valve type, and follow-up were recorded.

Results

Fourteen shunt procedures performed in 10 patients were identified. Two small pneumothoraces were detected on routine postoperative imaging and required no intervention. There were 3 late mechanical complications, including migration of a catheter out of the pleural space, catheter fracture at the insertion point, and the need for a longer catheter due to the patient's growth.

Conclusions

The authors describe a safe, minimally invasive method for insertion of pleural shunt catheters along with a series of patients who have undergone placement of a pleural shunt catheter using this method without complication directly attributable to the use of this technique.

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Brent R. O’Neill, Michael H. Handler, Suhong Tong and Kevin E. Chapman

OBJECT

Seizures may cause diagnostic confusion and be a source of metabolic stress after traumatic brain injury (TBI) in children. The incidence of electroencephalography (EEG)-confirmed seizures and of subclinical seizures in the pediatric population with TBI is not well known.

METHODS

A routine protocol for continuous EEG (cEEG) monitoring was initiated for all patients with moderate or severe TBI at a Level 1 pediatric trauma center. Over a 3.5-year period, all patients with TBI who underwent cEEG monitoring, both according to protocol and those with mild head injuries who underwent cEEG monitoring at the discretion of the treating team, were identified prospectively. Clinical data were collected and analyzed.

RESULTS

Over the study period, 594 children were admitted with TBI, and 144 of these children underwent cEEG monitoring. One hundred two (71%) of these 144 children had moderate or severe TBI. Abusive head trauma (AHT) was the most common mechanism of injury (65 patients, 45%) in children with cEEG monitoring. Seizures were identified on cEEG in 43 patients (30%). Forty (93%) of these 43 patients had subclinical seizures, including 17 (40%) with only subclinical seizures and 23 (53%) with both clinical and subclinical seizures. Fifty-three percent of patients with seizures experienced status epilepticus. Age less than 2.4 years and AHT mechanism were strongly correlated with presence of seizures (odds ratios 8.7 and 6.0, respectively). Those patients with only subclinical seizures had the same risk factors as the other groups. The presence of seizures did not correlate with discharge disposition but was correlated with longer hospital stay and intensive care unit stay.

CONCLUSIONS

Continuous EEG monitoring identifies a significant number of subclinical seizures acutely after TBI. Children younger than 2.4 years of age and victims of AHT are particularly vulnerable to subclinical seizures, and seizures in general. Continuous EEG monitoring allows for accurate diagnosis and timely treatment of posttraumatic seizures, and may mitigate secondary injury to the traumatized brain.

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Todd C. Hankinson, Elizabeth J. Campagna, Nicholas K. Foreman and Michael H. Handler

Object

The current management paradigm for children with newly diagnosed diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) is to establish a diagnosis and begin therapy based on MR imaging findings correlated with an appropriate clinical presentation, and without a tissue diagnosis. This strategy assumes that pediatric neurosurgeons and neurooncologists uniformly interpret MR imaging findings in this population. This study sought to examine the consistency of North American pediatric neurosurgeons in assessing MR images in this patient population, and in their surgical plans based on the interpretation of those images.

Methods

The authors created an online survey and invited all members of the American Society of Pediatric Neurosurgeons and the American Association of Neurological Surgeons/Congress of Neurological Surgeons Joint Section for Pediatric Neurosurgery to participate. The survey consisted of 58 questions, and 48 pertained to representative MR images from 16 children who presented to The Children's Hospital of Colorado with diffuse pontine tumors. Based on the imaging presented and a standard clinical scenario, the respondent was asked if she or he believed a lesion to be “typical” or “atypical,” whether she or he would biopsy the lesion, and what surgical approach would be chosen. The remaining 10 questions pertained to respondent demographics and his or her practice regarding tissue preservation and interest in participating in a multicenter trial that included tumor biopsy in selected cases. Rates at which each lesion was considered to be typical or atypical and rates of recommended biopsy were calculated.

Results

Surveys were received by 269 individuals. Eighty-six responses were received (32.0%). No tumor was judged to be either typical or atypical by all respondents. Individual surgeons varied widely regarding how many of the tumors were judged as typical or warranted a biopsy. The percentage of respondents who disagreed with the majority opinion regarding whether a tumor qualified as typical ranged from 2.3% to 48.8%, with a median of 28.6%. More than 75% agreement regarding whether a tumor was typical or atypical was found in 7 (43.8%) of 16 cases. The κ statistic regarding typicality was 0.297 ± 0.0004 (mean ± SEM), implying only fair agreement. For every tumor, at least 1 respondent who believed the lesion to be typical in appearance would nevertheless biopsy the lesion. Of those respondents who considered a lesion to be typical, a median of 5.1% (range 1.2%–66.7%) would choose to biopsy this lesion. Of those respondents who considered a lesion atypical, a median of 18.3% (range 3.7%–100%) would choose not to biopsy the lesion. Of 85 responses to the question, “Would you be willing to biopsy a typical diffuse pontine glioma as a part of a multicenter trial?,” 59 (69.4%) of 85 respondents answered that they would.

Conclusions

Although making a diagnosis based on radiographic evidence alone represents a well-established management paradigm for children with suspected DIPG, this study demonstrates considerable inconsistency on the part of pediatric neurosurgeons in the application of this strategy to individual patients. As such, the practice of diagnosing DIPG based on imaging characteristics and clinical history alone does not reach the appropriate threshold to be considered a standard of care.

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Joel S. Katz, Chima O. Oluigbo, C. Corbett Wilkinson, Sean McNatt and Michael H. Handler

Object

The incidence, type, and severity of pediatric cervical spine injuries (CSIs) are related to age and mechanism of injury. In this study, the authors assessed the prevalence of CSIs in infants with head trauma treated in their institution.

Methods

The authors reviewed the medical records of children younger than 1 year of age who presented to The Children's Hospital with head injuries between January 1993 and December 2007. They excluded infants with head injuries resulting from motor vehicle accidents and known falls from heights greater than 10 ft. For each patient, collected data included age, cause of injury, diagnosis, discharge disposition, and outcome. Relevant imaging data were reviewed, and when appropriate, autopsy reports were also reviewed.

Results

Nine hundred five infants with head trauma and without a major mechanism/cause were identified. Their mean age was 4.3 months. Of the 905 patients, only 2 cases of CSI were detected, giving a prevalence of 0.2%. The mechanism of injury in these 2 patients was nonaccidental trauma (NAT).

Conclusions

The study revealed a very low prevalence of CSIs in infants with head trauma (0.2%). Routine cervical spine imaging in these infants, therefore, appears to have low diagnostic yield. The mechanism of head injury was NAT in the 2 patients who sustained an associated CSI. This supports the need for more stringent cervical spine imaging criteria for the infant with suspected NAT.

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Michael H. Handler and Nicholas K. Foreman

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Seerat Poonia, Sarah Graber, C. Corbett Wilkinson, Brent R. O'neill, Michael H. Handler and Todd C. Hankinson

OBJECTIVE

Postoperative management following the release of simple spinal cord–tethering lesions is highly variable. As a quality improvement initiative, the authors aimed to determine whether an institutional protocol of discharging patients on postoperative day (POD) 1 was associated with a higher rate of postoperative CSF leaks than the prior protocol of discharge on POD 2.

METHODS

This was a single-center retrospective review of all children who underwent release of a spinal cord–tethering lesion that was not associated with a substantial fascial or dural defect (i.e., simple spinal cord detethering) during 2 epochs: prior to and following the institution of a protocol for discharge on POD 1. Outcomes included the need for and timing of nonroutine care of the surgical site, including return to the operating room, wound suturing, and nonsurgical evaluation and management.

RESULTS

Of 169 patients identified, none presented with CSF-related complications prior to discharge. In the preintervention group (n = 113), the postoperative CSF leak rate was 4.4% (5/113). The mean length of stay was 2.3 days. In the postintervention group, the postoperative CSF leak rate was 1.9% (1/53) in the patients with postdischarge follow-up. The mean length of stay in that group was 1.3 days.

CONCLUSIONS

At a single academic children's hospital, a protocol of discharging patients on POD 1 following uncomplicated release of a simple spinal cord–tethering lesion was not associated with an increased rate of postoperative CSF leaks, relative to the previous protocol. The rates identified are consistent with the existing literature. The authors' practice has changed to discharge on POD 1 in most cases.

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Valerie N. Barton, Nicholas K. Foreman, Andrew M. Donson, Diane K. Birks, Michael H. Handler and Rajeev Vibhakar

Object

Despite advances in the knowledge of tumor biology, the outcome of glioblastoma tumors remains poor. The design of many molecularly targeted therapies in glioblastoma has focused on inhibiting molecular abnormalities present in tumor cells compared with normal tissue rather than patient outcome-associated factors. As an alternative approach, the present study identified genes associated with shorter survival as potential therapeutic targets. It was hypothesized that inhibition of a molecular target associated with poor outcome would impact glioblastoma cell proliferation.

Methods

The present study correlated patient survival data with tumor gene expression profiling and gene ontology analysis. Genes associated with shorter survival were identified and one of these was selected for therapeutic targeting in an in vitro system. Glioblastoma cell growth suppression was measured by H3-thymidine uptake, colony formation, and flow cytometry.

Results

The gene expression microarray and ontology analysis revealed that genes involved in mitotic processes, including AURKA, were associated with poor prognosis in glioblastoma. Inhibition of AURKA suppressed glioblastoma cell growth. Moreover, inhibition of AURKA was synergistic with radiation in glioblastoma cells at high radiation doses.

Conclusions

Relative expression of AURKA may be of prognostic value and warrants further investigation with larger, prospective studies. Pharmacological inhibition of AURKA is a potentially promising therapy for glioblastoma.

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Chima O. Oluigbo, C. Corbett Wilkinson, Nicholas V. Stence, Laura Z. Fenton, Sean A. McNatt and Michael H. Handler

Object

The goal of this study was to compare clinical outcomes following decompressive craniectomy performed for intracranial hypertension in children with nonaccidental, blunt cranial trauma with outcomes of decompressive craniectomy in children injured by other mechanisms.

Methods

All children in a prospectively acquired database of trauma admissions who underwent decompressive craniectomy over a 9-year span, beginning January 1, 2000, are the basis for this study. Clinical records and neuroimaging studies were systematically reviewed.

Results

Thirty-seven children met the inclusion criteria. Nonaccidental head trauma was the most common mechanism of injury (38%). The mortality rate in patients with abusive brain injury (35.7%) was significantly higher (p < 0.05) than in patients with other causes of traumatic brain injury (4.3%). Children with inflicted head injuries had a 12-fold increase in the odds of death and 3-fold increase in the odds of a poor outcome (King's Outcome Scale for Closed Head Injury score of 1, 2, or 3).

Conclusions

Children with nonaccidental blunt cranial trauma have significantly higher mortality following decompressive craniectomy than do children with other mechanisms of injury. This understanding can be interpreted to mean either that the threshold for decompression should be lower in children with nonaccidental closed head injury or that decompression is unlikely to alter the path to a fatal outcome. If decompressive craniectomy is to be effective in reducing mortality in the setting of nonaccidental blunt cranial trauma, it should be done quite early.