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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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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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Michael Handler, Victor Ho, Margaret Whelan and Gleb Budzilovich

✓ The acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a recently described T-cell deficiency predisposing patients to a spectrum of opportunistic infections, Kaposi's sarcoma, and other neoplasms. It appears primarily among homosexual males and intravenous drug abusers, but is now being observed in other groups as well. The authors describe six adult patients with AIDS who developed intracranial toxoplasmosis. In four patients, diagnosis was made by brain biopsy, and in one by serology. These patients received a 90-day course of therapy with sulfadiazine, pyrimethamine, or both when tolerated, and improved neurologically. In one patient, the brain biopsy was nondiagnostic and the organism was identified at autopsy. On computerized tomographic and pathological follow-up studies the organism appeared to be eradicated by therapy. Early aggressive diagnostic study and prompt institution of therapy are imperative for reversal of neurological deficits. Despite cure of toxoplasmosis, the prognosis in patients with AIDS is poor; the mortality in this series was 67%. Isolation precautions should be taken by those caring for such patients.

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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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Michael H. Handler and Nicholas K. Foreman

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Marlin Dustin Richardson, Nicholas O. Palmeri, Sarah A. Williams, Michelle R. Torok, Brent R. O’Neill, Michael H. Handler and Todd C. Hankinson

OBJECT

NSAIDs are effective perioperative analgesics. Many surgeons are reluctant to use NSAIDs perioperatively because of a theoretical increase in the risk for bleeding events. The authors assessed the effect of routine perioperative ketorolac use on intracranial hemorrhage in children undergoing a wide range of neurosurgical procedures.

METHODS

A retrospective single-institution analysis of 1451 neurosurgical cases was performed. Data included demographics, type of surgery, and perioperative ketorolac use. Outcomes included bleeding events requiring return to the operating room, bleeding seen on postoperative imaging, and the development of renal failure or gastrointestinal tract injury.

Variables associated with both the exposure and outcomes (p < 0.20) were evaluated as potential confounders for bleeding on postoperative imaging, and multivariable logistic regression was performed. Bivariable analysis was performed for bleeding events. Odds ratios and 95% CIs were estimated.

RESULTS

Of the 1451 patients, 955 received ketorolac. Multivariate regression analysis demonstrated no significant association between clinically significant bleeding events (OR 0.69; 95% CI 0.15–3.1) or radiographic hemorrhage (OR 0.81; 95% CI 0.43–1.51) and the perioperative administration of ketorolac. Treatment with a medication that creates a known bleeding risk (OR 3.11; 95% CI 1.01–9.57), surgical procedure (OR 2.35; 95% CI 1.11–4.94), and craniotomy/craniectomy (OR 2.43; 95% CI 1.19–4.94) were associated with a significantly elevated risk for radiographically identified hemorrhage.

CONCLUSIONS

Short-term ketorolac therapy does not appear to be associated with a statistically significant increase in the risk of bleeding documented on postoperative imaging in pediatric neurosurgical patients and may be considered as part of a perioperative analgesic regimen. Although no association was found between ketorolac and clinically significant bleeding events, a larger study needs to be conducted to control for confounding factors, because of the rarity of these events.

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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.

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Brent R. O'Neill, Danielle Gallegos, Alex Herron, Claire Palmer, Nicholas V. Stence, Todd C. Hankinson, C. Corbett Wilkinson and Michael H. Handler

OBJECTIVE

Cutaneous stigmata or congenital anomalies often prompt screening for occult spinal dysraphism (OSD) in asymptomatic infants. While a number of studies have examined the results of ultrasonography (US) screening, less is known about the findings when MRI is used as the primary imaging modality. The object of this study was to assess the results of MRI screening for OSD in infants.

METHODS

The authors undertook a retrospective review of all infants who had undergone MRI of the lumbar spine to screen for OSD over a 6-year period (September 2006–September 2012). All images had been obtained on modern MRI scanners using sequences optimized to detect OSD, which was defined as any fibrolipoma of the filum terminale (FFT), a conus medullaris ending at or below the L2–3 disc space, as well as more complex lesions such as lipomyelomeningocele (LMM).

RESULTS

Five hundred twenty-two patients with a mean age of 6.2 months at imaging were included in the study. Indications for imaging included isolated dimple in 235 patients (45%), asymmetrically deviated gluteal cleft in 43 (8%), symmetrically deviated (Y-shaped) gluteal cleft in 38 (7%), hemangioma in 28 (5%), other isolated cutaneous stigmata (subcutaneous lipoma, vestigial tail, hairy patch, and dysplastic skin) in 31 (6%), several of the above stigmata in 97 (18%), and congenital anomalies in 50 (10%).

Twenty-three percent (122 patients) of the study population had OSD. Lesions in 19% of these 122 patients were complex OSD consisting of LMM, dermal sinus tract extending to the thecal sac, and lipomeningocele. The majority of OSD lesions (99 patients [81%]) were filar abnormalities, a group including FFT and low-lying conus.

The rate of OSD ranged from 12% for patients with asymmetrically deviated gluteal crease to 55% for those with other isolated cutaneous stigmata.

Isolated midline dimple was the most common indication for imaging. Among this group, 20% (46 of 235) had OSD. There was no difference in the rate of OSD based on dimple location. Those with OSD had a mean dimple position of 15 mm (SD 11.8) above the coccyx. Those without OSD had a mean dimple position of 12.2 mm (SD 19) above the coccyx (p = 0.25).

CONCLUSIONS

The prevalence of OSD identified with modern high-resolution MRI screening is significantly higher than that reported with US screening, particularly in patients with dimples. The majority of OSD lesions identified are FFT and low conus. The clinical significance of such lesions remains unclear.