Preliminary evidence suggests that intrauterine myelomeningocele repair may benefit patients by reducing the both incidence of hydrocephalus and the severity of the Chiari malformation; however, this benefit remains unproved. Furthermore, the procedure entails substantial risks not associated with conventional therapy. A randomized controlled trial of intrauterine and conventional therapies is underway. This study should definitively establish the procedure-related risks and benefits. Regardless of the outcome, it is clear that the risks of intrauterine intervention need to be reduced before myelomeningocele, or other congenital malformations, can be effectively treated prior to birth. To that end, studies are being conducted to assess the potential advantages of applying state-of-the-art endoscopic techniques to intrauterine therapy. If benefit can be proven and risks reduced, intrauterine myelomeningocele repair has the potential to become the preferred therapy for patients suffering from this debilitating disease.
Noel Tulipan and Mario A. Cleves
The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of double gloving on cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) shunt infection rates.
Data obtained in two large groups of patients, one in which thesurgical personnel wore a single pair of gloves each and the other in which the personnel wore two pairs of gloves each, were retrospectively studied.
The study involved 863 patients. The overall infection rate in the single-gloved group was 15.2%, whereas it was 6.7% in the double-gloved group (p = 0.0002). Of additional interest was the marked difference between the overall shunt infection rates in younger children (< 11.3 years of age; 15.7%) and older children (> 11.3 years of age) and adults (6.7%; p < 0.00005).
The strategy of wearing two pairs of gloves while performing surgery appears to reduce the incidence of postoperative shunt infection by more than 50%. The incidence of shunt infection is highly age dependent. The shunt infection rate may be further reduced by carefully studying the individual variables associated with the shunt insertion procedure.
Jonathan A. Forbes, Adam S. Reig, Luke D. Tomycz and Noel Tulipan
Intracranial hypertension resulting from compression of the superior sagittal sinus (SSS) by an overlying depressed calvarial fracture is a rare condition. Primary surgical treatment for the symptomatic patient in this setting traditionally involves elevation of the fracture, which often carries significant associated morbidity.
The authors report a case involving a 6-year-old boy who suffered a closed, depressed, parietooccipital fracture as the result of an unhelmeted all-terrain vehicle accident. This fracture caused compression and subsequent thrombosis of the SSS, which resulted in CSF malabsorption and progressive intracranial hypertension. Initially headache free following the injury, he had developed severe and unremitting headaches by postinjury Day 7. A CT angiography study of the head obtained at this time exhibited thrombosis of the SSS underlying the depressed calvarial fracture. Subsequent lumbar puncture demonstrated markedly elevated intrathecal pressures. Large volumes of CSF were removed, with temporary improvement in symptoms. After medical management with anticoagulation failed, the decision was made to proceed with image-guided ventriculoperitoneal shunt insertion.
The patient's headaches resolved immediately following the procedure, and anticoagulation therapy was reinstituted. Follow-up images obtained 4 months after the injury demonstrated evidence of resolution of the depressed fracture, with recanalization of the SSS. The anticoagulation therapy was then discontinued. To the authors' knowledge, this report is the first description of ventriculoperitoneal shunt insertion as the primary treatment of this infrequent condition.
This report demonstrates that select patients with this presentation can undergo CSF diversion in lieu of elevation of the depressed skull fracture—a surgical procedure shown to be associated with increased risks when the depressed fracture overlies the posterior SSS. The literature on this topic is reviewed and management of this condition is discussed.
Travis R. Ladner, Michael C. Dewan, Matthew A. Day, Chevis N. Shannon, Luke Tomycz, Noel Tulipan and John C. Wellons III
Osseous anomalies of the craniocervical junction are hypothesized to precipitate the hindbrain herniation observed in Chiari I malformation (CM-I). Previous work by Tubbs et al. showed that posterior angulation of the odontoid process is more prevalent in children with CM-I than in healthy controls. The present study is an external validation of that report. The goals of our study were 3-fold: 1) to externally validate the results of Tubbs et al. in a different patient population; 2) to compare how morphometric parameters vary with age, sex, and symptomatology; and 3) to develop a correlative model for tonsillar ectopia in CM-I based on these measurements.
The authors performed a retrospective review of 119 patients who underwent posterior fossa decompression with duraplasty at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University; 78 of these patients had imaging available for review. Demographic and clinical variables were collected. A neuroradiologist retrospectively evaluated preoperative MRI examinations in these 78 patients and recorded the following measurements: McRae line length; obex displacement length; odontoid process parameters (height, angle of retroflexion, and angle of retroversion); perpendicular distance to the basion-C2 line (pB–C2 line); length of cerebellar tonsillar ectopia; caudal extent of the cerebellar tonsils; and presence, location, and size of syringomyelia. Odontoid retroflexion grade was classified as Grade 0, > 90°; Grade I,85°–89°; Grade II, 80°–84°; and Grade III, < 80°. Age groups were defined as 0–6 years, 7–12 years, and 13–17 years at the time of surgery. Univariate and multivariate linear regression analyses, Kruskal-Wallis 1-way ANOVA, and Fisher’s exact test were performed to assess the relationship between age, sex, and symptomatology with these craniometric variables.
The prevalence of posterior odontoid angulation was 81%, which is almost identical to that in the previous report (84%). With increasing age, the odontoid height (p < 0.001) and pB–C2 length (p < 0.001) increased, while the odontoid process became more posteriorly inclined (p = 0.010). The pB–C2 line was significantly longer in girls (p = 0.006). These measurements did not significantly correlate with symptomatology. Length of tonsillar ectopia in pediatric CM-I correlated with an enlarged foramen magnum (p = 0.023), increasing obex displacement (p = 0.020), and increasing odontoid retroflexion (p < 0.001).
Anomalous bony development of the craniocervical junction is a consistent feature of CM-I in children. The authors found that the population at their center was characterized by posterior angulation of the odontoid process in 81% of cases, similar to findings by Tubbs et al. (84%). The odontoid process appeared to lengthen and become more posteriorly inclined with age. Increased tonsillar ectopia was associated with more posterior odontoid angulation, a widened foramen magnum, and an inferiorly displaced obex.
Travis R. Ladner, Michael C. Dewan, Matthew A. Day, Chevis N. Shannon, Luke Tomycz, Noel Tulipan and John C. Wellons III
The clinical significance of radiological measurements of the craniocervical junction in pediatric Chiari I malformation (CM-I) is yet to be fully established across the field. The authors examined their institutional experience with the pB–C2 line (drawn perpendicular to a line drawn between the basion and the posterior aspect of the C-2 vertebral body, at the most posterior extent of the odontoid process at the dural interface). The pB–C2 line is a measure of ventral canal encroachment, and its relationship with symptomatology and syringomyelia in pediatric CM-I was assessed.
The authors performed a retrospective review of 119 patients at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt University who underwent posterior fossa decompression with duraplasty, 78 of whom had imaging for review. A neuroradiologist retrospectively evaluated preoperative and postoperative MRI examinations performed in these 78 patients, measuring the pB–C2 line length and documenting syringomyelia. The pB–C2 line length was divided into Grade 0 (< 3 mm) and Grade I (≥ 3 mm). Statistical analysis was performed using the t-test for continuous variables and Fisher's exact test analysis for categorical variables. Multivariate logistic and linear regression analyses were performed to assess the relationship between pB–C2 line grade and clinical variables found significant on univariate analysis, controlling for age and sex.
The mean patient age was 8.5 years, and the mean follow-up duration was 2.4 years. The mean pB–C2 line length was 3.5 mm (SD 2 mm), ranging from 0 to 10 mm. Overall, 65.4% of patients had a Grade I pB–C2 line. Patients with Grade I pB–C2 lines were 51% more likely to have a syrinx than those with Grade 0 pB–C2 lines (RR 1.513 [95% CI 1.024–2.90], p = 0.021) and, when present, had greater syrinx reduction (3.6 mm vs 0.2 mm, p = 0.002). Although there was no preoperative difference in headache incidence, postoperatively patients with Grade I pB–C2 lines were 69% more likely to have headache reduction than those with Grade 0 pB–C2 lines (RR 1.686 [95% CI 1.035–2.747], p = 0.009). After controlling for age and sex, pB–C2 line grade remained an independent correlate of headache improvement and syrinx reduction.
Ventral canal encroachment may explain the symptomatology of select patients with CM-I. The clinical findings presented suggest that patients with Grade I pB–C lines2, with increased ventral canal obstruction, may experience a higher likelihood of syrinx reduction and headache resolution from decompressive surgery with duraplasty than those with Grade 0 pB–C2 lines.
Scott L. Parker, Saniya S. Godil, Scott L. Zuckerman, Stephen K. Mendenhall, Noel B. Tulipan and Matthew J. McGirt
Suboccipital decompression is a common procedure for patients with Chiari malformation Type I (CMI). Published studies have reported complication rates ranging from 3% to 40%, with pseudomeningocele being one of the most common complications. To date, there are no studies assessing the effect of this complication on long-term outcome. Therefore, the authors set out to assess the effect of symptomatic pseudomeningocele on patient outcomes following suboccipital decompression for CM-I.
The study comprised 50 adult patients with CM-I who underwent suboccipital craniectomy and C-1 laminectomy with or without duraplasty. Clinical presentation, radiological studies, operative variables, and complications were assessed for each case. Baseline and 1-year postoperative patient-reported outcomes were assessed to determine improvement in pain, disability, and quality of life. The extent of improvement was compared for patients with and without development of a postoperative symptomatic pseudomeningocele.
A symptomatic pseudomeningocele developed postoperatively in 9 patients (18%). There was no difference with regard to clinical, radiological, or operative variables for patients with or without a postoperative pseudomeningocele. Patients without a pseudomeningocele had significant improvement in all 9 patient-reported outcome measures assessed. On the other hand, patients with pseudomeningocele only had significant improvement in headache (as measured on the Numeric Rating Scale) and headache-related disability (as measured on the Headache Disability Index) but no improvement in quality of life. Twenty-nine (71%) of 41 patients without a pseudomeningocele reported improvement in health status postoperatively compared with only 3 (33%) of 9 patients with a postoperative pseudomeningocele (p = 0.05).
Surgical management of CM-I in adults provides significant and sustained improvement in pain, disability, general health, and quality of life. Development of a postoperative symptomatic pseudomeningocele has lingering effects at 1 year, and it significantly diminishes the overall benefit of suboccipital decompression for CM-related symptoms. Further research is needed to accurately predict which patients may benefit from decompression alone without duraplasty.
Noel Tulipan, John C. Wellons III, Elizabeth A. Thom, Nalin Gupta, Leslie N. Sutton, Pamela K. Burrows, Diana Farmer, William Walsh, Mark P. Johnson, Larry Rand, Susan Tolivaisa, Mary E. D’alton and N. Scott Adzick
The Management of Myelomeningocele Study (MOMS) was a multicenter randomized trial comparing the safety and efficacy of prenatal and postnatal closure of myelomeningocele. The trial was stopped early because of the demonstrated efficacy of prenatal surgery, and outcomes on 158 of 183 pregnancies were reported. Here, the authors update the 1-year outcomes for the complete trial, analyze the primary and related outcomes, and evaluate whether specific prerandomization risk factors are associated with prenatal surgery benefit.
The primary outcome was a composite of fetal loss or any of the following: infant death, CSF shunt placement, or meeting the prespecified criteria for shunt placement. Primary outcome, actual shunt placement, and shunt revision rates for prenatal versus postnatal repair were compared. The shunt criteria were reassessed to determine which were most concordant with practice, and a new composite outcome was created from the primary outcome by replacing the original criteria for CSF shunt placement with the revised criteria. The authors used logistic regression to estimate whether there were interactions between the type of surgery and known prenatal risk factors (lesion level, gestational age, degree of hindbrain herniation, and ventricle size) for shunt placement, and to determine which factors were associated with shunting among those infants who underwent prenatal surgery.
Ninety-one women were randomized to prenatal surgery and 92 to postnatal repair. The primary outcome occurred in 73% of infants in the prenatal surgery group and in 98% in the postnatal group (p < 0.0001). Actual rates of shunt placement were only 44% and 84% in the 2 groups, respectively (p < 0.0001). The authors revised the most commonly met criterion to require overt clinical signs of increased intracranial pressure, defined as split sutures, bulging fontanelle, or sunsetting eyes, in addition to increasing head circumference or hydrocephalus. Using these modified criteria, only 3 patients in each group met criteria but did not receive a shunt. For the revised composite outcome, there was a difference between the prenatal and postnatal surgery groups: 49.5% versus 87.0% (p < 0.0001). There was also a significant reduction in the number of children who had a shunt placed and then required a revision by 1 year of age in the prenatal group (15.4% vs 40.2%, relative risk 0.38 [95% CI 0.22–0.66]). In the prenatal surgery group, 20% of those with ventricle size < 10 mm at initial screening, 45.2% with ventricle size of 10 up to 15 mm, and 79.0% with ventricle size ≥ 15 mm received a shunt, whereas in the postnatal group, 79.4%, 86.0%, and 87.5%, respectively, received a shunt (p = 0.02). Lesion level and degree of hindbrain herniation appeared to have no effect on the eventual need for shunting (p = 0.19 and p = 0.13, respectively). Similar results were obtained for the revised outcome.
Larger ventricles at initial screening are associated with an increased need for shunting among those undergoing fetal surgery for myelomeningocele. During prenatal counseling, care should be exercised in recommending prenatal surgery when the ventricles are 15 mm or larger because prenatal surgery does not appear to improve outcome in this group. The revised criteria may be useful as guidelines for treating hydrocephalus in this group.
Kelly A. Bennett, Mary Anne Carroll, Chevis N. Shannon, Stephane A. Braun, Mary E. Dabrowiak, Alicia K. Crum, Ray L. Paschall, Ann L. Kavanaugh-McHugh, John C. Wellons III and Noel B. Tulipan
As more pediatric neurosurgeons become involved with fetal myelomeningocele closure efforts, examining refined techniques in the overall surgical approach that could maximize beneficial outcomes becomes critical. The authors compared outcomes for patients who had undergone a modified technique with those for patients who had undergone fetal repair as part of the earlier Management of Myelomeningocele Study (MOMS).
Demographic and outcomes data were collected for a series of 43 delivered patients who had undergone in utero myelomeningocele closure at the Fetal Center at Vanderbilt from March 2011 through January 2013 (the study cohort) and were compared with data for 78 patients who had undergone fetal repair as part of MOMS (the MOMS cohort). For the study cohort, no uterine trocar was used, and uterine entry, manipulation, and closure were modified to minimize separation of the amniotic membrane. Weekly ultrasound reports were obtained from primary maternal–fetal medicine providers and reviewed. A test for normality revealed that distribution for the study cohort was normal; therefore, parametric statistics were used for comparisons.
The incidence of premature rupture of membranes (22% vs 46%, p = 0.011) and chorioamnion separation (0% vs 26%, p < 0.001) were lower for the study cohort than for the MOMS cohort. Incidence of oligohydramnios did not differ between the cohorts. The mean (± SD) gestational age of 34.4 (± 6.6) weeks for the study cohort was similar to that for the MOMS cohort (34.1 ± 3.1 weeks). However, the proportion of infants born at term (37 weeks or greater) was significantly higher for the study cohort (16 of 41; 39%) than for the MOMS cohort (16 of 78; 21%) (p = 0.030). Compared with 10 (13%) of 78 patients in the MOMS cohort, only 2 (4%) of 41 infants in the study cohort were delivered earlier than 30 weeks of gestation (p = 0.084, approaching significance). For the study cohort, 2 fetal deaths were attributed to the intervention, and both were believed to be associated with placental disruption; one of these mothers had previously unidentified thrombophilia. Mortality rates did not statistically differ between the cohorts.
These early results suggest that careful attention to uterine entry, manipulation, and closure by the surgical team can result in a decreased rate of premature rupture of membranes and chorioamnion separation and can reduce early preterm delivery. Although these results are promising, their confirmation will require further study of a larger series of patients.