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Michael M. McDowell and Andrew F. Ducruet

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Michael D. White, Michael M. McDowell, Nitin Agarwal, and Stephanie Greene

OBJECTIVE

Myelomeningocele (MMC) is frequently complicated by symptomatic hydrocephalus, necessitating early permanent CSF diversion and revision surgeries. Shunt infections are a common cause of shunt malfunction. This study aims to characterize long-term shunt-related outcomes of patients undergoing MMC closure.

METHODS

A total of 170 patients undergoing MMC closure between the years of 1995 and 2017 were identified from a retrospective review of a prospectively populated surgical database at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. Patients who underwent MMC closure and required ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt insertion met criteria and were included in the primary study analysis. Analysis with a Fisher exact test was performed for categorical variables, and Mann-Whitney U-tests were utilized for numerical data.

RESULTS

Of the 158 total patients undergoing MMC closure and meeting inclusion criteria, 137 (87%) required VP shunt insertion. These 137 patients demonstrated a shunt revision rate of 21.1% per person-year and a shunt infection rate of 2.1% per person-year over a mean follow-up of 10.8 years. Patients had a mean of 3.4 ± 0.6 shunt surgeries prior to their first infection. Patients undergoing immediate shunt removal, external ventricular drain placement, or shunt replacement after clearing the infection had lower rates of subsequent infections than patients who initially were managed with shunt externalization (p < 0.001). Placement of a shunt at the time of MMC closure was not found to be a risk factor for infection. Of patients with initial shunt placement after the implementation of the Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network protocol in 2011, the authors’ institution has had a shunt infection rate of 4.2% per person-year and a revision rate of 35.7% per person-year.

CONCLUSIONS

This study describes long-term outcomes of shunted MMC patients and factors associated with shunt infections. Most patients underwent multiple revisions prior to the first shunt infection. Shunt externalization may be ineffective at clearing the infection and should be avoided in favor of early shunt removal and external ventricular drainage, followed by shunt replacement once infection is demonstrated to have cleared.

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Michael M. McDowell, Daniela Ortega Peraza, and Taylor J. Abel

Awake craniotomies are a crucial tool for identifying eloquent cortex, but significant limitations frequently related to patient tolerance have limited their applicability in pediatric cases. The authors describe a comprehensive, longitudinal protocol developed in collaboration with a certified child life specialist (CCLS) in order to enhance patient experiences and develop resiliency related to the intraoperative portion of cases. This protocol includes preoperative conditioning, intraoperative support, and postoperative positive reinforcement and debriefing. A unique coping plan is developed for each prospective patient. With appropriate support, awake craniotomy may be applicable in a wider array of preadolescent and adolescent patients than has previously been possible. Future prospective studies are needed to validate this approach.

Open access

Michael M. McDowell, Robert Kellogg, Jesse A. Goldstein, and Taylor J. Abel

Endoscopic suturectomy combined with supplementary techniques such as spring-assisted expansion and cranial molding helmets for the correction of craniosynostosis is growing in popularity due to the reduced scar burdened, decreased morbidity, and reduced overall cost. The authors present their technique for the correction of isolated coronal craniosynostosis. The use of dedicated endoscopic tools and lit endoscopes permits enhanced visualization and technical ability, particularly at the distal portions of the suturectomy, and may reduce operative time and cerebrospinal fluid leak risk.

The video can be found here: https://vimeo.com/515401366.

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Nitin Agarwal, Ahmed Kashkoush, Michael M. McDowell, William R. Lariviere, Naveed Ismail, and Robert M. Friedlander

OBJECTIVE

Ventricular shunt (VS) durability has been well studied in the pediatric population and in patients with normal pressure hydrocephalus; however, further evaluation in a more heterogeneous adult population is needed. This study aims to evaluate the effect of diagnosis and valve type—fixed versus programmable—on shunt durability and cost for placement of shunts in adult patients.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed the medical records of all patients who underwent implantation of a VS for hydrocephalus at their institution over a 3-year period between August 2013 and October 2016 with a minimum postoperative follow-up of 6 months. The primary outcome was shunt revision, which was defined as reoperation for any indication after the initial procedure. Supply costs, shunt durability, and hydrocephalus etiologies were compared between fixed and programmable valves.

RESULTS

A total of 417 patients underwent shunt placement during the index time frame, consisting of 62 fixed shunts (15%) and 355 programmable shunts (85%). The mean follow-up was 30 ± 12 (SD) months. The shunt revision rate was 22% for programmable pressure valves and 21% for fixed pressure valves (HR 1.1 [95% CI 0.6–1.8]). Shunt complications, such as valve failure, infection, and overdrainage, occurred with similar frequency across valve types. Kaplan-Meier survival curve analysis showed no difference in durability between fixed (mean 39 months) and programmable (mean 40 months) shunts (p = 0.980, log-rank test). The median shunt supply cost per index case and accounting for subsequent revisions was $3438 (interquartile range $2938–$3876) and $1504 (interquartile range $753–$1584) for programmable and fixed shunts, respectively (p < 0.001, Wilcoxon rank-sum test). Of all hydrocephalus etiologies, pseudotumor cerebri (HR 1.9 [95% CI 1.2–3.1]) and previous shunt malfunction (HR 1.8 [95% CI 1.2–2.7]) were found to significantly increase the risk of shunt revision. Within each diagnosis, there were no significant differences in revision rates between shunts with a fixed valve and shunts with a programmable valve.

CONCLUSIONS

Long-term shunt revision rates are similar for fixed and programmable shunt pressure valves in adult patients. Hydrocephalus etiology may play a significant role in predicting shunt revision, although programmable valves incur higher supply costs regardless of initial diagnosis. Utilization of fixed pressure valves versus programmable pressure valves may reduce supply costs while maintaining similar revision rates. Given the importance of developing cost-effective management protocols, this study highlights the critical need for large-scale prospective observational studies and randomized clinical trials of ventricular shunt valve revisions and additional patient-centered outcomes.

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Nitin Agarwal, Ahmed Kashkoush, Michael M. McDowell, William R. Lariviere, Naveed Ismail, and Robert M. Friedlander

OBJECTIVE

Ventricular shunt (VS) durability has been well studied in the pediatric population and in patients with normal pressure hydrocephalus; however, further evaluation in a more heterogeneous adult population is needed. This study aims to evaluate the effect of diagnosis and valve type—fixed versus programmable—on shunt durability and cost for placement of shunts in adult patients.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed the medical records of all patients who underwent implantation of a VS for hydrocephalus at their institution over a 3-year period between August 2013 and October 2016 with a minimum postoperative follow-up of 6 months. The primary outcome was shunt revision, which was defined as reoperation for any indication after the initial procedure. Supply costs, shunt durability, and hydrocephalus etiologies were compared between fixed and programmable valves.

RESULTS

A total of 417 patients underwent shunt placement during the index time frame, consisting of 62 fixed shunts (15%) and 355 programmable shunts (85%). The mean follow-up was 30 ± 12 (SD) months. The shunt revision rate was 22% for programmable pressure valves and 21% for fixed pressure valves (HR 1.1 [95% CI 0.6–1.8]). Shunt complications, such as valve failure, infection, and overdrainage, occurred with similar frequency across valve types. Kaplan-Meier survival curve analysis showed no difference in durability between fixed (mean 39 months) and programmable (mean 40 months) shunts (p = 0.980, log-rank test). The median shunt supply cost per index case and accounting for subsequent revisions was $3438 (interquartile range $2938–$3876) and $1504 (interquartile range $753–$1584) for programmable and fixed shunts, respectively (p < 0.001, Wilcoxon rank-sum test). Of all hydrocephalus etiologies, pseudotumor cerebri (HR 1.9 [95% CI 1.2–3.1]) and previous shunt malfunction (HR 1.8 [95% CI 1.2–2.7]) were found to significantly increase the risk of shunt revision. Within each diagnosis, there were no significant differences in revision rates between shunts with a fixed valve and shunts with a programmable valve.

CONCLUSIONS

Long-term shunt revision rates are similar for fixed and programmable shunt pressure valves in adult patients. Hydrocephalus etiology may play a significant role in predicting shunt revision, although programmable valves incur higher supply costs regardless of initial diagnosis. Utilization of fixed pressure valves versus programmable pressure valves may reduce supply costs while maintaining similar revision rates. Given the importance of developing cost-effective management protocols, this study highlights the critical need for large-scale prospective observational studies and randomized clinical trials of ventricular shunt valve revisions and additional patient-centered outcomes.

Open access

Michael M. McDowell, Andrew Venteicher, Ezequiel Goldschmidt, Maximiliano Nuñez, David O. Okonkwo, and Paul A. Gardner

Craniocervical instability due to chronic atlantoaxial dissociation presents the challenge of providing adequate decompression, reduction, and fixation to promote long-term stability while avoiding iatrogenic vertebral artery dissection or entrapment. The authors present one patient with chronic atlantoaxial dissociation and basilar invagination treated via Goel’s technique and with bilateral vertebral artery mobilization. There was substantial decompression and reduction postoperatively and the patient was discharged with a stable examination. Vertebral artery mobilization at the C1–2 junction can be safely performed via a standard midline suboccipital incision and dissection without vertebral artery injury.

The video can be found here: https://youtu.be/VS1Mt1dBLO4.

Open access

Michael M. McDowell, Georgios Zenonos, Eric Wang, Carl H. Snyderman, and Paul A. Gardner

This is the case of a 76-year-old woman presenting with progressive right vision loss consisting of a right eye temporal field cut and severe visual acuity loss. An MRI was performed showing a suprasellar mass for which she had been referred to our center for an endoscopic endonasal approach. The tumor was found to be densely adherent to adjacent structures, and an ophthalmic artery and A1–A2 junction injury were sustained during resection. The management of intraoperative vascular injuries is described.

The video can be found here: https://youtu.be/JJY6nYKTCSg.

Free access

Michael M. McDowell, Christopher P. Kellner, Sunjay M. Barton, Charles B. Mikell, Eric S. Sussman, Simon G. Heuts, and E. Sander Connolly

In this report, the authors sought to summarize existing literature to provide an overview of the currently available techniques and to critically assess the evidence for or against their application in intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) for management, prognostication, and research. Functional imaging in ICH represents a potential major step forward in the ability of physicians to assess patients suffering from this devastating illness due to the advantages over standing imaging modalities focused on general tissue structure alone, but its use is highly controversial due to the relative paucity of literature and the lack of consolidation of the predominantly small data sets that are currently in existence. Current data support that diffusion tensor imaging and tractography, diffusion-perfusion weighted MRI techniques, and functional MRI all possess major potential in the areas of highlighting motor deficits, motor recovery, and network reorganization. Novel clinical studies designed to objectively assess the value of each of these modalities on a wider scale in conjunction with other methods of investigation and management will allow for their rapid incorporation into standard practice.

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Zachary L. Hickman, Michael M. McDowell, Sunjay M. Barton, Eric S. Sussman, Eli Grunstein, and Richard C. E. Anderson

The endoscopic transnasal approach to the rostral pediatric spine and craniovertebral junction is a relatively new technique that provides an alternative to the traditional transoral approach to the anterior pediatric spine. In this case series, the authors provide 2 additional examples of patients undergoing endoscopic transnasal odontoidectomies for ventral decompression of the spinal cord. Both patients would have required transection of the palate to undergo an effective transoral operation, which can be a cause of significant morbidity. In one case, transnasal decompression was initially incomplete, and decompression was successfully achieved via a second endoscopic transnasal operation. Both cases resulted in significant neurological recovery and stable long-term spinal alignment. The transnasal approach benefits from entering into the posterior pharynx at an angle that often reduces the length of postoperative intubation and may speed a patient's return to oral intake. Higher reoperation rates are a concern for many endoscopic approaches, but there are insufficient data to conclude if this is the case for this procedure. Further experience with this technique will provide a better understanding of the indications for which it is most effective. Transcervical and transoral endoscopic approaches have also been reported and provide additional options for pediatric anterior cervical spine surgery.