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Steven L. Klein, Robert A. Sanford and Michael S. Muhlbauer

✓ A total of 2259 children with solid malignant tumors were treated at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital between the years 1962 and 1987. Of these, 112 (5%) developed spinal epidural metastasis with spinal cord compression during the course of their disease process. Metastatic epidural spinal cord compression was caused most commonly by Ewing's sarcoma and neuroblastoma, followed by osteogenic sarcoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, Hodgkin's disease, soft-tissue sarcoma, germ-cell tumor, Wilm's tumor, and (rarely) hepatoma. There was no significant difference in outcome between patients with small-cell tumors (neuroblastoma, Hodgkin's disease, and germ-cell tumors) who received only chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy and the patients with similar lesions who received a decompressive laminectomy alone or prior to chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. Patients with spinal cord compression from metastatic sarcoma (Ewing's sarcoma, soft-tissue sarcoma, osteogenic sarcoma, and rhabdomyosarcoma) showed a significant improvement with decompressive laminectomy alone or before medical therapy, compared to those who received radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy without posterior decompression.

Pediatric tumors invade the spinal canal via the neural foramen, compressing the spinal cord in a circumferential manner, allowing decompressive laminectomy (posterior approach) to be an effective surgical approach. Sixty-six percent of children who had no evidence of motor or sensory function below the level of the compression became ambulatory after surgical decompression and medical treatment, regardless of tumor type.

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Clarence B. Watridge, Michael S. Muhlbauer and Robbie D. Lowery

✓ Early diagnosis and successful management of traumatic carotid artery dissections require a high index of clinical suspicion. The diagnostic study of choice is cerebral arteriography. In this paper, 24 cases of traumatic carotid artery dissection are described. Presenting signs and symptoms include Horner's syndrome, dysphasia, hemiparesis, obtundation, and monoparesis. Patients detected early with mild neurological deficits fared well with treatment, while those with profound neurological deficits and delayed diagnoses had poor outcomes. Aggressive nonsurgical treatment is advocated including anticoagulation therapy for prevention of progressive thrombosis and arterial occlusion and/or distal arterial embolization with resultant cerebral ischemia. Direct surgical thromboendarterectomy is considered to carry high morbidity and mortality rates.

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Michael DeCuypere, Michael S. Muhlbauer, Frederick A. Boop and Paul Klimo Jr.

OBJECTIVE

Penetrating brain injury in civilians is much less common than blunt brain injury but is more severe overall. Gunshot wounds (GSWs) cause high morbidity and mortality related to penetrating brain injury; however, there are few reports on the management and outcome of intracranial GSWs in children. The goals of this study were to identify clinical and radiological factors predictive for death in children and to externally validate a recently proposed pediatric prognostic scale.

METHODS

The authors conducted a retrospective review of penetrating, isolated GSWs sustained in children whose ages ranged from birth to 18 years and who were treated at 2 major metropolitan Level 1 trauma centers from 1996 through 2013. Several standard clinical, laboratory, and radiological factors were analyzed for their ability to predict death in these patients. The authors then applied the St. Louis Scale for Pediatric Gunshot Wounds to the Head, a scoring algorithm that was designed to provide rapid prognostic information for emergency management decisions. The scale's sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictability were determined, with death as the primary outcome.

RESULTS

Seventy-one children (57 male, 14 female) had a mean age of 14 years (range 19 months to 18 years). Overall mortality among these children was 47.9%, with 81% of survivors attaining a favorable clinical outcome (Glasgow Outcome Scale score ≥ 4). A number of predictors of mortality were identified (all p < 0.05): 1) bilateral fixed pupils; 2) deep nuclear injury; 3) transventricular projectile trajectory; 4) bihemispheric injury; 5) injury to ≥ 3 lobes; 6) systolic blood pressure < 100 mm Hg; 7) anemia (hematocrit < 30%); 8) Glasgow Coma Scale score ≤ 5; and 9) a blood base deficit < −5 mEq/L. Patient age, when converted to a categorical variable (0–9 or 10–18 years), was not predictive. Based on data from the 71 patients in this study, the positive predictive value of the St. Louis scale in predicting death (score ≥ 5) was 78%.

CONCLUSIONS

This series of pediatric cranial GSWs underscores the importance of the initial clinical exam and CT studies along with adequate resuscitation to make the appropriate management decision(s). Based on our population, the St. Louis Scale seems to be more useful as a predictor of who will survive than who will succumb to their injury.

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W. Craig Clark, Michael S. Muhlbauer, Clarence B. Watridge and Morris W. Ray

✓ A retrospective analysis of 76 civilian craniocerebral gunshot wounds treated over a 20-month period is presented. The authors report a 62% mortality rate and conclude that the admission Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score is a valuable prognosticator of outcome. Other important findings were: 1) patients with a GCS score of 3 invariably died, with or without surgical intervention; and 2) the presence of intracranial hematomas, ventricular injury, or bihemispheric wounding was associated with a poor outcome. Standardized methods of data reporting should be adopted in order to allow multicenter trials or comparisons that might lead to management practices that could improve results.

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Paul Klimo Jr., Nelson Astur, Kyle Gabrick, William C. Warner Jr. and Michael S. Muhlbauer

Object

Many methods to stabilize and fuse the craniocervical junction have been described. One of the early designs was a contoured (Luque) rod fixated with wires, the so-called Hartshill-Ransford loop. In this study, the authors report their 20-year experience with this surgical technique in children.

Methods

The authors reviewed the medical records of patients 18 years of age or younger who underwent dorsal occipitocervical fusion procedures between March 1992 and March 2012 at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital using a contoured rod and wire construct. Data on basic patient characteristics, causes of instability, neurological function at presentation and at last follow-up, details of surgery, complications, and radiographic outcome were collected.

Results

Twenty patients (11 male) were identified, with a mean age of 5.5 years (range 1–18 years) and a median follow-up of 43.5 months. Fourteen patients had atlantooccipital dislocation, 2 patients had atlantoaxial fracture–dissociations, 2 had Down syndrome with occipitocervical and atlantoaxial instability, 1 had an epithelioid sarcoma from the clivus to C-2, and 1 had an anomalous atlas with resultant occipitocervical instability. Surgical stabilization extended from the occiput to C-1 in 3 patients, C-2 in 6, C-3 in 8, and to C-4 in 3. Bone morphogenetic protein was used in 2 patients. Two patients were placed in a halo orthosis; the rest were kept in a hard collar for 6–8 weeks. All patients were neurologically stable after surgery. One patient with a dural tear experienced wound dehiscence with CSF leakage and required reoperation. Eighteen patients went on to achieve fusion within 6 months of surgery; 1 patient was initially lost to follow-up, but recent imaging demonstrated a solid fusion. There were no early hardware or bone failures requiring hardware removal, but radiographs obtained 8 years after surgery showed that 1 patient had an asymptomatic fractured rod. There were no instances of symptomatic junctional degeneration, and no patient was found to have increasing lordosis over the fused segments. Five (31%) of the 16 trauma patients required a shunt for hydrocephalus.

Conclusions

Despite the proliferation of screw-fixation techniques for craniocervical instability in children, the contoured rod–wire construct remains an effective, less expensive, and technically easier alternative that has been in use for almost 30 years. It confers immediate stability, and therefore most patients will not need to be placed in a halo device postoperatively. A secondary observation in our series was the high (30%) rate of hydrocephalus requiring a shunt in patients with traumatic instability.

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Adam Ross Befeler, William Gordon, Nickalus Khan, Julius Fernandez, Michael Scott Muhlbauer and Jeffrey Marius Sorenson

OBJECT

There is a paucity of scientific evidence available about the benefits of outpatient follow-up imaging for traumatic brain injury patients. In this study, 1 year of consecutive patients at a Level 1 trauma center were analyzed to determine if there is any benefit to routinely obtaining CT of the head at the outpatient follow-up visit.

METHODS

This single-institution retrospective review was performed on all patients with a traumatic brain injury seen at a Level 1 trauma center in 2013. Demographic data, types of injuries, surgical interventions, radiographic imaging in inpatient and outpatient settings, and outcomes were assessed through a review of the institution’s trauma registry, patient charts, and imaging.

RESULTS

Five hundred twenty-five patients were seen for traumatic brain injury in 2013 at Regional One Health in Memphis, Tennessee. One hundred eighty-five patients (35%) presented for outpatient follow-up, all with CT scans of the head. Seven of these patients (4%) showed worsening of their intracranial injuries on outpatient imaging studies; however, surgical intervention was recommended for only 3 of these patients (2%). All patients requiring an intervention had neurological deterioration prior to their follow-up appointment.

CONCLUSIONS

These experiences suggest that outpatient follow-up imaging for traumatic brain injury should be done selectively, as it was not helpful for patients who did not exhibit worsening of neurological signs or symptoms. Furthermore, routine outpatient imaging results in unnecessary resource utilization and radiation exposure.

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Nickalus R. Khan, Clinton J. Thompson, Michael DeCuypere, Jonathan M. Angotti, Erick Kalobwe, Michael S. Muhlbauer, Francis X. Camillo and Paul Klimo Jr.

Object

Surgical site infection (SSI) is a serious and costly complication of spinal surgery. There have been several conflicting reports on the use of intrawound vancomycin powder in decreasing SSI in spine surgery. The purpose of this study is to answer the question: “Does intrawound vancomycin powder reduce the rate of SSIs in spine surgery?”

Methods

A comprehensive search of multiple electronic databases and bibliographies was conducted to identify clinical studies that evaluated the rates of SSI with and without the use of intrawound vancomycin powder in spine surgery. Independent reviewers extracted data and graded the quality of each paper that met inclusion criteria. A random effects meta-analysis was then performed.

Results

The search identified 9 retrospective cohort studies (Level III evidence) and 1 randomized controlled trial (Level II evidence). There were 2574 cases and 106 infections in the control group (4.1%) and 2518 cases and 33 infections (1.3%) in the treatment group, yielding a pooled absolute risk reduction and relative risk reduction of 2.8% and 68%, respectively. The meta-analysis revealed the use of vancomycin powder to be protective in preventing SSI (relative risk = 0.34, 95% confidence interval 0.17–0.66, p = 0.021). The number needed to treat to prevent 1 SSI was 36. A subgroup analysis found that patients who had implants had a reduced risk of SSI with vancomycin powder (p = 0.023), compared with those who had noninstrumented spinal operations (p = 0.226).

Conclusions

This meta-analysis suggests that the use of vancomycin powder may be protective against SSI in open spinal surgery; however, the exact population in which it should be used is not clear. This benefit may be most appreciated in higher-risk populations or in facilities with a high baseline rate of infection.

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Amar Gajjar, Ravi Bhargava, Jesse J. Jenkins, Richard Heideman, Robert A. Sanford, James W. Langston, Andrew W. Walter, John F. Kuttesch, Michael Muhlbauer and Larry E. Kun

✓ Little is known about low-grade astrocytoma with neuraxis dissemination at diagnosis. A review of medical records identified this phenomenon in eight of 150 pediatric patients evaluated between 1985 and 1994 for histologically confirmed low-grade astrocytoma. These patients (five male and three female) ranged in age from 5 months to 20 years (median 8 years). Symptoms of neuraxis disease were minimal or absent. Primary tumor sites were the hypothalamus in four cases, brainstem/spinal cord in three, and temporal lobe in one. Patterns of dissemination (evaluated by computerized tomography and/or magnetic resonance imaging techniques) appeared to be related to the primary site: hypothalamic tumors metastasized along the ventricular cerebrospinal fluid pathways, and tumors in other locations disseminated along subarachnoid pathways. Following initial treatment with chemotherapy (in three), partial resection (in one), radiation therapy (in three), and chemotherapy plus irradiation (in one), four patients required salvage therapy for progressive or recurrent disease. Seven of the eight patients are alive with stable or progressive disease 6 to 105 months postdiagnosis (median 15 months). Low-grade astrocytoma with initial neuraxis dissemination is responsive to chemotherapy and radiation, a proportion showing periods of stable disease. The optimum therapy or combination of therapies remains unclear.

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Jennifer M. Strahle, Rukayat Taiwo, Christine Averill, James Torner, Chevis N. Shannon, Christopher M. Bonfield, Gerald F. Tuite, Tammy Bethel-Anderson, Jerrel Rutlin, Douglas L. Brockmeyer, John C. Wellons III, Jeffrey R. Leonard, Francesco T. Mangano, James M. Johnston, Manish N. Shah, Bermans J. Iskandar, Elizabeth C. Tyler-Kabara, David J. Daniels, Eric M. Jackson, Gerald A. Grant, Daniel E. Couture, P. David Adelson, Tord D. Alden, Philipp R. Aldana, Richard C. E. Anderson, Nathan R. Selden, Lissa C. Baird, Karin Bierbrauer, Joshua J. Chern, William E. Whitehead, Richard G. Ellenbogen, Herbert E. Fuchs, Daniel J. Guillaume, Todd C. Hankinson, Mark R. Iantosca, W. Jerry Oakes, Robert F. Keating, Nickalus R. Khan, Michael S. Muhlbauer, J. Gordon McComb, Arnold H. Menezes, John Ragheb, Jodi L. Smith, Cormac O. Maher, Stephanie Greene, Michael Kelly, Brent R. O’Neill, Mark D. Krieger, Mandeep Tamber, Susan R. Durham, Greg Olavarria, Scellig S. D. Stone, Bruce A. Kaufman, Gregory G. Heuer, David F. Bauer, Gregory Albert, Jeffrey P. Greenfield, Scott D. Wait, Mark D. Van Poppel, Ramin Eskandari, Timothy Mapstone, Joshua S. Shimony, Ralph G. Dacey Jr., Matthew D. Smyth, Tae Sung Park and David D. Limbrick Jr.

OBJECTIVE

Scoliosis is frequently a presenting sign of Chiari malformation type I (CM-I) with syrinx. The authors’ goal was to define scoliosis in this population and describe how radiological characteristics of CM-I and syrinx relate to the presence and severity of scoliosis.

METHODS

A large multicenter retrospective and prospective registry of pediatric patients with CM-I (tonsils ≥ 5 mm below the foramen magnum) and syrinx (≥ 3 mm in axial width) was reviewed for clinical and radiological characteristics of CM-I, syrinx, and scoliosis (coronal curve ≥ 10°).

RESULTS

Based on available imaging of patients with CM-I and syrinx, 260 of 825 patients (31%) had a clear diagnosis of scoliosis based on radiographs or coronal MRI. Forty-nine patients (5.9%) did not have scoliosis, and in 516 (63%) patients, a clear determination of the presence or absence of scoliosis could not be made. Comparison of patients with and those without a definite scoliosis diagnosis indicated that scoliosis was associated with wider syrinxes (8.7 vs 6.3 mm, OR 1.25, p < 0.001), longer syrinxes (10.3 vs 6.2 levels, OR 1.18, p < 0.001), syrinxes with their rostral extent located in the cervical spine (94% vs 80%, OR 3.91, p = 0.001), and holocord syrinxes (50% vs 16%, OR 5.61, p < 0.001). Multivariable regression analysis revealed syrinx length and the presence of holocord syrinx to be independent predictors of scoliosis in this patient cohort. Scoliosis was not associated with sex, age at CM-I diagnosis, tonsil position, pB–C2 distance (measured perpendicular distance from the ventral dura to a line drawn from the basion to the posterior-inferior aspect of C2), clivoaxial angle, or frontal-occipital horn ratio. Average curve magnitude was 29.9°, and 37.7% of patients had a left thoracic curve. Older age at CM-I or syrinx diagnosis (p < 0.0001) was associated with greater curve magnitude whereas there was no association between syrinx dimensions and curve magnitude.

CONCLUSIONS

Syrinx characteristics, but not tonsil position, were related to the presence of scoliosis in patients with CM-I, and there was an independent association of syrinx length and holocord syrinx with scoliosis. Further study is needed to evaluate the nature of the relationship between syrinx and scoliosis in patients with CM-I.