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Pawel G. Ochalski, Matthew A. Adamo, P. David Adelson, David O. Okonkwo and Ian F. Pollack

Object

Fractures of the clivus and traumatic diastases of the clival synchondroses are rare in the pediatric population. The incidence, outcome, and biomechanics associated with these fractures have been difficult to ascertain secondary to the lack of literature pertaining to their occurrence.

Methods

A Boolean search of the electronic medical record database at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, was performed to identify patients with fractures of the clivus that were diagnosed using CT of the head. A retrospective review of the chart and radiographic imaging was then performed to assess data regarding patient demographics, mechanism of injury, and skull and brain parenchymal injuries, as well as outcomes.

Results

Between May 2002 and November 2007, 16 patients with fractures of the clivus were identified. The mean age of these patients was 9 years (range 1–16 years). Eleven (68.8%) of the 16 patients had an associated traumatic diastasis of the central skull base. Five (31.3%) of the 16 patients died. However, of the 11 patients who survived, all had a good outcome with a Glasgow Outcome Scale score of 4 or 5 at the time of discharge. The incidence of clival fractures among patients with head injuries was 0.33%.

Conclusions

Clival fractures occur with a similar incidence in both the pediatric and adult trauma population. Outcome is not correlated directly with the extent of clival fracture, but rather with the presenting Glasgow Coma Scale score and concomitant brain parenchymal injuries. The identification of traumatic diastases in patients with clival fractures suggests that static loading forces are a significant factor in the biomechanics producing these types of fractures.

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Pawel G. Ochalski, David O. Okonkwo, Michael J. Bell and P. David Adelson

The authors report on a case of successful reversal of sedation with flumazenil, a benzodiazepine antagonist, in a child following a moderate traumatic brain injury and demonstrate the utility of flumazenil to reverse benzodiazepine effects in traumatically injured children.

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David W. Lowry, Ian F. Pollack, Brent Clyde, A. Leland Albright and P. David Adelson

✓ The outcomes of 25 pediatric patients who underwent upper cervical or occipitocervical fusion at the authors' institution since 1983 were reviewed. At a mean age of 9 years, the patients presented with spinal instability that was associated with os odontoideum in 11 cases, rotatory subluxation in five cases, odontoid fracture in two cases, atlantooccipital dislocation in two cases, and congenital atlantoaxial instability in five patients, four of whom had Down's syndrome (trisomy 21). Ten children had abnormal findings on neurological examination preoperatively; however, nine experienced improvement or resolution of deficits as of their latest follow-up evaluation (mean 17 months). Fusion was achieved with the first operation in 21 of 25 patients; eventually it was attained in all but one. Four patients exhibited persistent spinal instability after an initial procedure. This was caused by erosion of a multistranded cable through the intact arch of C-2 in two cases, by pin site infection necessitating early halo removal in one case, and by slippage in a halo following a Gallie procedure, which was revised with a Brooks fusion in one case. This series, the largest yet published, shows that with appropriate surgical management, posterior upper cervical fusion in the pediatric population is highly successful. Careful attention to halo pin site care and caution in using multistranded cable in young patients may improve results.

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David W. Lowry, Ian F. Pollack, Brent Clyde, A. Leland Albright and P. David Adelson

The outcomes of 25 pediatric patients who underwent upper cervical or occipitocervical fusion at the authors' institution since 1983 were reviewed. At a mean age of 9 years, the patients presented with spinal instability that was associated with os odontoideum in 11 cases, rotatory subluxation in five cases, odontoid fracture in two cases, atlantooccipital dislocation in two cases, and congenital atlantoaxial instability in five patients, four of whom had Down's syndrome (trisomy 21). Ten children had abnormal findings on neurological examination preoperatively; however, nine experienced improvement or resolution of deficits as of their latest follow-up evaluation (mean 17 months). Fusion was achieved with the first operation in 21 of 25 patients; eventually it was attained in all but one. Four patients exhibited persistent spinal instability after an initial procedure. This was caused by erosion of a multistranded cable through the intact arch of C-2 in two cases, by pin site infection necessitating early halo removal in one case, and by slippage in a halo following a Gallie procedure, which was revised with a Brooks fusion in one case. This series, the largest yet published, shows that with appropriate surgical management, posterior upper cervical fusion in the pediatric population is highly successful. Careful attention to halo pin site care and caution in using multistranded cable in young patients may improve results.

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David W. Lowry, Donna L. B. Lowry, Sarah L. Berga, P. David Adelson and Michelle M. Roberts

✓ The authors present a case of secondary amenorrhea in a 32-year-old woman found to have noncommunicating hydrocephalus due to aqueductal stenosis. Although the presentation of hydrocephalus with amenorrhea has been previously reported, this association remains rare. After treatment via endoscopic third ventriculocisternostomy, the patient resumed normal menstruation and all hormonal abnormalities have resolved except hypothyroidism. A review of the literature on the etiology of endocrinological disturbances in patients with hydrocephalus is presented.

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Nathan P. Dean, Susan Boslaugh, P. David Adelson, Jose A. Pineda and Jeffrey R. Leonard

Object

The aim of this study was to evaluate physician agreement with published recommendations and guidelines for the management of severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) in children and to identify markers associated with physician responses matching published guidelines.

Methods

An Internet survey was created based on recommendations and guidelines published in 2003 and was sent to US physicians and neurosurgeons caring for pediatric patients with severe TBI. Agreement with each recommendation was tabulated. Characteristics of the surveyed physicians and their institutions were compared to identify markers of conformity with first-tier recommendations (intracranial pressure [ICP] treatment threshold, monitoring cerebral perfusion pressure, use of sedation/neuromuscular blockade, and use of hyperosmolar therapy).

Results

One hundred ninety-four US physicians responded: 36 neurosurgeons and 158 nonsurgeons. Overall, physician responses matched most recommendations more than 60% of the time. The serum osmolality threshold of hypertonic saline, use of prophylactic hyperventilation, and differences in ICP thresholds based on a child's age comprised the recommendations with the least agreement. No physician variable was linked to increased agreement with first-tier recommendations.

Conclusions

Overall, physician responses coincided with the published guidelines and recommendations. Examples of variable conformance most likely reflect the paucity of available data and lack of randomized controlled trials in the field of severe TBI.

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P. David Adelson, Eugene A. Bonaroti, Todd P. Thompson, Minhduc Tran and N. Ake Nystrom

Object. The standard techniques for repair of peripheral nerve injuries with neuroma formation are typically suboptimal. To begin to explore alternative techniques, the authors used an established model in rodents by using end-to-side “terminolateral” neurorrhaphies (TLNs) to study alternative grafting techniques. The TLN “jump grafts” bypass a neuroma-in-continuity, hypothetically maintaining functional units within the neuroma to facilitate functional regeneration. Evaluation of the extent and origin of the regenerating fibers within the grafts was also undertaken.

Methods. The right tibial nerve in four adult Sprague—Dawley rats was injured using either a crush or transection technique and compared with four uninjured controls. The contralateral peroneal nerve was immediately harvested for microsurgical repair by using TLN jump grafts in all animals. Following a 3-month recovery, the repaired nerves were evaluated electrophysiologically by using evoked electromyography (EMG). Histological preparation was then performed using dual-fluorescent labeling to study axonal regeneration and origins.

Evoked EMG evaluation confirmed healthy electrical conduction across the repair, which was unchanged after transection of the neuroma, but was abolished after transection of the jump graft, indicating functional neural regeneration across both the proximal and distal TLNs of the jump grafts. Fluorescent tracing analysis confirmed regeneration across both the proximal and distal portion of the jump grafts, demonstrated both motor and sensory neurons as the source of the regenerating fibers, and demonstrated significant numbers of double-labeled cell bodies, indicating that collateral sprouting was the primary source of regenerating fibers.

Conclusions. The authors have preliminarily shown that regeneration occurs both electrophysiologically and histologically with a double-TLN jump graft. Clinically, this method could offer an alternative strategy for the technique and timing of neuroma repair.

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P. David Adelson, Paul Robichaud, Ronald L. Hamilton and Patrick M. Kochanek

✓ Diffuse cerebral swelling after severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) develops more commonly in children than adults; however, models of diffuse brain injury in immature animals are lacking. The authors developed a new model of diffuse severe TBI in immature rats by modifying a recently described closed head injury model for adult rats. A total of 105 Sprague—Dawley immature rats (17 days old; average weight 38.5 ± 5.46 g) were subjected to head impact using variable weights (0 g (sham), 75 g, 100 g, or 125 g) delivered from a height of 2 m onto a metal disk cemented to the intact cranium. Mortality, physiological and neurological parameters (from early reflex recovery to escape), and early histopathological changes were assessed. During the acute period after severe injury (SI) (100 g delivered from a height of 2 m; 50 rats), apnea was frequently observed and the mortality rate was 38%. Neurological recovery was complete in the sham-injured animals (11 rats) by 4.1 ± 0.23 minutes (mean ± standard error of the mean), but was delayed in both moderately injured (MI) (75 g/2 m; 11 rats) (14.97 ± 3.99 minutes) and SI (20.57 ± 1.31 minutes (p < 0.05)) rats. In the first 24 hours, the sham-injured animals were more active than the injured ones as reflected by a greater net weight gain: 2.9 ± 1.0 g, 1.2 ± 1.6 g, and −0.6 ± 2.1 g in sham-injured, MI, and SI animals, respectively. Immediately after injury, transient hypertension (lasting < 15 seconds) was followed by hypotension (lasting < 3 minutes) and loss of temperature regulation. Both injuries also induced apnea (0.75 ± 0.7 minutes and 1.27 ± 0.53 minutes in MI and SI groups, respectively), which either resolved or deteriorated to death. Intubation and assisted ventilation in animals with SI for 9.57 ± 3.27 minutes in the peritrauma period eliminated mortality (p < 0.05, intubated vs. nonintubated). Histologically, after SI, there was diffuse edema throughout the corpus callosum below the region of injury and in the thalami. Other injuries included neuronal death in the deep nuclei, bilateral disruption of CA3, diffuse subarachnoid hemorrhage, and, in some, ventriculomegaly. Following a diffuse TBI in immature rats, SI produced a mortality rate, neurological deficit, and histological changes similar to those previously reported for an injury resulting from a 450-g weight dropped from 2 m in adult rats. A graded insult was achieved by maintaining the height of the weight drop but varying the weights. Weight loss, acute physiological instability, and acute neurological deficits were also indicative of an SI. Mortality was eliminated when ventilatory support was used during the peritrauma period. This model should be useful in studying the response of the immature rat to diffuse severe TBI.