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Nicholas S. Szuflita, Tiffany N. Phan, Jason H. Boulter, Robert F. Keating, and John S. Myseros

OBJECTIVE

The authors aimed to describe the natural history and optimal management of persistent syringomyelia after suboccipital craniectomy for Chiari malformation type I (CM-I).

METHODS

A cohort of all patients who presented to a tertiary pediatric hospital with newly diagnosed CM-I between 2009 and 2017 was identified. Patients with persistent or worsened syringomyelia were identified on the basis of a retrospective review of medical records and imaging studies. The management of these patients and their clinical courses were then described.

RESULTS

A total of 153 children with CM-I and syringomyelia were evaluated between 2009 and 2017. Of these, 115 (68.8%) patients underwent surgical intervention: 40 patients underwent posterior fossa decompression (PFD) alone, 43 underwent PFD with duraplasty, and 32 underwent PFD with duraplasty and fourth ventricle stent placement. Eleven (7.19%) patients had increased syringomyelia on subsequent postoperative imaging. Three of these patients underwent revision surgery because of worsening scoliosis or pain, 2 of whom were lost to follow-up, and 4 were managed nonoperatively with close surveillance and serial MRI evaluations. The syringes decreased in size in 3 patients and resolved completely in 1 patient.

CONCLUSIONS

Persistent or worsened syringomyelia after CM-I decompression is uncommon. In the absence of symptoms, nonoperative management with close observation is safe for patients with persistent syrinx.

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R. Michael Meyer, M. Benjamin Larkin, Nicholas S. Szuflita, Chris J. Neal, Jeffrey M. Tomlin, Rocco A. Armonda, Jeffrey A. Bailey, and Randy S. Bell

OBJECTIVE

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is independently associated with deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE). Given the numerous studies of civilian closed-head injury, the Brain Trauma Foundation recommends venous thromboembolism chemoprophylaxis (VTC) after severe TBI. No studies have specifically examined this practice in penetrating brain injury (PBI). Therefore, the authors examined the safety and effectiveness of early VTC after PBI with respect to worsening intracranial hemorrhage and DVT or PE.

METHODS

The Kandahar Airfield neurosurgery service managed 908 consults between January 2010 and March 2013. Eighty of these were US active duty members with PBI, 13 of whom were excluded from analysis because they presented with frankly nonsurvivable CNS injury or they died during initial resuscitation. This is a retrospective analysis of the remaining 67 patients.

RESULTS

Thirty-two patients received early VTC and 35 did not. Mean time to the first dose was 24 hours. Fifty-two patients had blast-related PBI and 15 had gunshot wounds (GSWs) to the head. The incidence of worsened intracranial hemorrhage was 16% after early VTC and 17% when it was not given, with the relative risk approaching 1 (RR = 0.91). The incidence of DVT or PE was 12% after early VTC and 17% when it was not given (RR = 0.73), though this difference was not statistically significant.

CONCLUSIONS

Early VTC was safe with regard to the progression of intracranial hemorrhage in this cohort of combat-related PBI patients. Data in this study suggest that this intervention may have been effective for the prevention of DVT or PE but not statistically significantly so. More research is needed to clarify the safety and efficacy of this practice.

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M. Benjamin Larkin, Erin K. M. Graves, Jason H. Boulter, Nicholas S. Szuflita, R. Michael Meyer, Michael E. Porambo, John J. Delaney, and Randy S. Bell

OBJECTIVE

There are limited data concerning the long-term functional outcomes of patients with penetrating brain injury. Reports from civilian cohorts are small because of the high reported mortality rates (as high as 90%). Data from military populations suggest a better prognosis for penetrating brain injury, but previous reports are hampered by analyses that exclude the point of injury. The purpose of this study was to provide a description of the long-term functional outcomes of those who sustain a combat-related penetrating brain injury (from the initial point of injury to 24 months afterward).

METHODS

This study is a retrospective review of cases of penetrating brain injury in patients who presented to the Role 3 Multinational Medical Unit at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, from January 2010 to March 2013. The primary outcome of interest was Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS) score at 6, 12, and 24 months from date of injury.

RESULTS

A total of 908 cases required neurosurgical consultation during the study period, and 80 of these cases involved US service members with penetrating brain injury. The mean admission Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score was 8.5 (SD 5.56), and the mean admission Injury Severity Score (ISS) was 26.6 (SD 10.2). The GOS score for the cohort trended toward improvement at each time point (3.6 at 6 months, 3.96 at 24 months, p > 0.05). In subgroup analysis, admission GCS score ≤ 5, gunshot wound as the injury mechanism, admission ISS ≥ 26, and brain herniation on admission CT head were all associated with worse GOS scores at all time points. Excluding those who died, functional improvement occurred regardless of admission GCS score (p < 0.05). The overall mortality rate for the cohort was 21%.

CONCLUSIONS

Good functional outcomes were achieved in this population of severe penetrating brain injury in those who survived their initial resuscitation. The mortality rate was lower than observed in civilian cohorts.