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Constance R. Chu and Randall M. Chesnut

✓ A case of a nerve root anomaly in a patient presenting with cervical radiculopathy is presented. The patient was treated with posterolateral exploration and decompression, resulting in relief of pain and improvement in strength. Both the preoperative contrast-enhanced computerized tomography scan and the magnetic resonance image demonstrated an abnormality behind the C-4 body extending from the right C3–4 neural foramen to the neural foramen at C4–5. At surgery, a dural-encased structure was discovered connecting the C-4 and C-5 nerve roots within the spinal canal. This paper describes the first reported case of a cervical nerve root anomaly of this type, representing a variant of a conjoined nerve root. The occurrence of such nerve root anomalies in the cervical spine should be entered into the differential diagnosis and treatment of cervical radiculopathy.

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Ross P. Martini, Steven Deem, N. David Yanez, Randall M. Chesnut, Noel S. Weiss, Stephen Daniel, Michael Souter and Miriam M. Treggiari

Object

The authors sought to describe changes in clinical management associated with brain tissue oxygen (PbO2) monitoring and how these changes affected outcomes and resource utilization.

Methods

The cohort study comprised 629 patients admitted to a Level I trauma center with a diagnosis of severe traumatic brain injury over a period of 3 years. Hospital mortality rate, neurological outcome, and resource utilization of 123 patients who underwent both PbO2 and intracranial pressure (ICP) monitoring were compared with the same measures in 506 patients who underwent ICP monitoring only. The main outcomes were hospital mortality rate, functional independence at hospital discharge, duration of mechanical ventilation, hospital length of stay, and hospital cost. Multivariable regression with robust variance was used to estimate the adjusted differences in the main outcome measures between patient groups. The models were adjusted for patient age, severity of injury, and pathological features seen on head CT scan at admission.

Results

On average, patients who underwent ICP/PbO2 monitoring were younger and had more severe injuries than patients who received ICP monitoring alone. Relatively more patients treated with PbO2 monitoring received osmotic therapy, vasopressors, and prolonged sedation. After adjustment for baseline characteristics, the hospital mortality rate was, if anything, slightly higher in patients undergoing PbO2-guided management than in patients monitored with ICP only (adjusted mortality difference 4.4%, 95% CI −3.9 to 13%). Patients who underwent PbO2-guided management also had lower adjusted functional independence scores at hospital discharge (adjusted score difference −0.75, 95% CI −1.41 to −0.09). There was a 27% relative increase (95% CI 6–53%) in the median hospital length of stay when the PbO2 group was compared with the ICP-only group.

Conclusions

The mortality rate in patients with traumatic brain injury whose clinical management was guided by PbO2 monitoring was not reduced in comparison with that in patients who received ICP monitoring alone. Brain tissue oxygen monitoring was associated with worse neurological outcome and increased hospital resource utilization.

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Ryan P. Morton, Brian W. Hanak, Michael R. Levitt, Kathleen R. Fink, Eric C. Peterson, Marcelo D. Vilela, Louis J. Kim and Randall M. Chesnut

Object

The stroke rate, management, and outcome after blunt cerebrovascular occlusion (Biffl Grade IV injury) is not well defined, given the rarity of the disease. Both hemodynamic failure and embolic mechanisms have been implicated in the pathophysiology of subsequent stroke after blunt cerebrovascular occlusion. In this study, the authors evaluated their center's experience with Biffl Grade IV injuries, focusing on elucidating the mechanisms of stroke and their optimal management.

Methods

A retrospective review identified all internal carotid artery (ICA) or vertebral artery (VA) Biffl Grade IV injuries over a 7-year period at a single institution.

Results

Fifty-nine Biffl Grade IV injuries were diagnosed affecting 11 ICAs, 44 unilateral VAs, and 2 bilateral VAs. The stroke rates were 64%, 9%, and 50%, respectively. Of the 11 Biffl Grade IV ICA injuries, 5 presented with stroke while 2 developed delayed stroke. An ipsilateral posterior communicating artery greater than 1 mm on CT angiography was protective against stroke due to hemodynamic failure (p = 0.015). All patients with Biffl Grade IV injuries affecting the ICA who had at least 8 emboli per hour on transcranial Doppler (TCD) ultrasonography developed an embolic pattern of stroke (p = 0.006). Treatment with aspirin versus dual antiplatelet therapy had a similar effect on stroke rate in the ICA group (p = 0.5) and all patients who suffered stroke either died (n = 3) or required a decompressive hemicraniectomy with subsequent poor outcome (n = 4). All 10 strokes associated with Biffl Grade IV VA injuries were embolic and clinically asymptomatic. In VA Biffl Grade IV injury, neither the presence of emboli nor treatment with antiplatelet agents affected stroke rates.

Conclusions

At the authors' institution, traumatic ICA occlusion is rare but associated with a high stroke rate. Robust collateral circulation may mitigate its severity. Embolic monitoring with TCD ultrasonography and prophylactic antiplatelet therapy should be used in all ICA Biffl Grade IV injuries. Unilateral VA Biffl Grade IV injury is the most common type of traumatic occlusion and is associated with significantly less morbidity. Embolic monitoring using TCD and prophylactic antiplatelet therapy do not appear to be beneficial in patients with traumatic VA occlusion.

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Aziz S. Alali, Nancy Temkin, Jason Barber, Jim Pridgeon, Kelley Chaddock, Sureyya Dikmen, Peter Hendrickson, Walter Videtta, Silvia Lujan, Gustavo Petroni, Nahuel Guadagnoli, Zulma Urbina and Randall M. Chesnut

OBJECTIVE

While existing guidelines support the treatment of intracranial hypertension in severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), it is unclear when to suspect and initiate treatment for high intracranial pressure (ICP). The objective of this study was to derive a clinical decision rule that accurately predicts intracranial hypertension.

METHODS

Using Delphi methods, the authors identified a set of potential predictors of intracranial hypertension and a clinical decision rule a priori by consensus among a group of 43 neurosurgeons and intensivists who have extensive experience managing severe TBI without ICP monitoring. To validate these predictors, the authors used data from a Latin American trial (n = 150; BEST TRIP). To report on the performance of the rule, they calculated sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values with 95% confidence intervals. In a secondary analysis, the rule was validated using data from a North American trial (n = 131; COBRIT).

RESULTS

The final predictors and the clinical decision rule were approved by 97% of participants in the consensus working group. The predictors are divided into major and minor criteria. High ICP would be considered suspected in the presence of 1 major or ≥ 2 minor criteria. Major criteria are: compressed cisterns (CT classification of Marshall diffuse injury [DI] III), midline shift > 5 mm (Marshall DI IV), or nonevacuated mass lesion. Minor criteria are: Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) motor score ≤ 4, pupillary asymmetry, abnormal pupillary reactivity, or Marshall DI II. The area under the curve for the logistic regression model that contains all the predictors was 0.86. When high ICP was defined as > 22 mm Hg, the decision rule performed with a sensitivity of 93.9% (95% CI 85.0%–98.3%), a specificity of 42.3% (95% CI 31.7%–53.6%), a positive predictive value of 55.5% (95% CI 50.7%–60.2%), and a negative predictive value of 90% (95% CI 77.1%–96.0%). The sensitivity of the clinical decision rule improved with higher ICP cutoffs up to a sensitivity of 100% when intracranial hypertension was defined as ICP > 30 mm Hg. Similar results were found in the North American cohort.

CONCLUSIONS

A simple clinical decision rule based on a combination of clinical and imaging findings was found to be highly sensitive in distinguishing patients with severe TBI who would suffer intracranial hypertension. It could be used to identify patients who require ICP monitoring in high-resource settings or start ICP-lowering treatment in environments where resource limitations preclude invasive monitoring.

Clinical trial registration no.: NCT02059941 (clinicaltrials.gov).

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Ryan P. Morton, Isaac Josh Abecassis, Josiah F. Hanson, Jason K. Barber, Mimi Chen, Cory M. Kelly, John D. Nerva, Samuel N. Emerson, Chibawanye I. Ene, Michael R. Levitt, Michelle M. Chowdhary, Andrew L. Ko and Randall M. Chesnut

OBJECTIVE

Despite their technical simplicity, cranioplasty procedures carry high reported morbidity rates. The authors here present the largest study to date on complications after cranioplasty, focusing specifically on the relationship between complications and timing of the operation.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed all cranioplasty cases performed at Harborview Medical Center over the past 10.75 years. In addition to relevant clinical and demographic characteristics, patient morbidity and mortality data were abstracted from the electronic medical record. Cox proportional-hazards models were used to analyze variables potentially associated with the risk of infection, hydrocephalus, seizure, hematoma, and bone flap resorption.

RESULTS

Over the course of 10.75 years, 754 cranioplasties were performed at a single institution. Sixty percent of the patients who underwent these cranioplasties were male, and the median follow-up overall was 233 days. The 30-day mortality rate was 0.26% (2 cases, both due to postoperative epidural hematoma). Overall, 24.6% percent of the patients experienced at least 1 complication including infection necessitating explantation of the flap (6.6%), postoperative hydrocephalus requiring a shunt (9.0%), resorption of the flap requiring synthetic cranioplasty (6.3%), seizure (4.1%), postoperative hematoma requiring evacuation (2.3%), and other (1.6%).

The rate of infection was significantly higher if the cranioplasty had been performed < 14 days after the initial craniectomy (p = 0.007, Holm-Bonferroni–adjusted p = 0.028). Hydrocephalus was significantly correlated with time to cranioplasty (OR 0.92 per 10-day increase, p < 0.001) and was most common in patients whose cranioplasty had been performed < 90 days after initial craniectomy. New-onset seizure, however, only occurred in patients who had undergone their cranioplasty > 90 days after initial craniectomy. Bone flap resorption was the least likely complication for patients whose cranioplasty had been performed between 15 and 30 days after initial craniectomy. Resorption was also correlated with patient age, with a hazard ratio of 0.67 per increase of 10 years of age (p = 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

Cranioplasty performed between 15 and 30 days after initial craniectomy may minimize infection, seizure, and bone flap resorption, whereas waiting > 90 days may minimize hydrocephalus but may increase the risk of seizure.

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Ryan P. Morton, I. Josh Abecassis, Josiah F. Hanson, Jason Barber, John D. Nerva, Samuel N. Emerson, Chibawanye I. Ene, Michelle M. Chowdhary, Michael R. Levitt, Andrew L. Ko, Timothy H. Dellit and Randall M. Chesnut

OBJECTIVE

The authors' aim was to report the largest study on predictors of infection after cranioplasty and to assess the predictive value of intraoperative bone flap cultures before cryopreservation.

METHODS

They retrospectively examined all cranioplasties performed between March 2004 and November 2014. Throughout this study period, the standard protocol during initial craniectomy was to obtain a culture swab of the extracted autologous bone flap (ABF)—prior to its placement in cytostorage—to screen for microbial contamination. Two consecutive protocols were employed for the use and interpretation of the intraoperative swab culture results: A) From March 2004 through June 2013, any culture-positive ABF (+ABF) was discarded and a custom synthetic prosthesis was implanted at the time of cranioplasty. B) From July 2013 through November 2014, any ABF with a skin flora organism was not discarded. Instead, cryopreservation was maintained and the +ABF was reimplanted after a 10-minute soak in bacitracin irrigation as well as a 3-minute soak in betadine.

RESULTS

Over the 10.75-year period, 754 cranioplasty procedures were performed. The median time from craniectomy to cranioplasty was 123 days. Median follow-up after cranioplasty was 237 days for protocol A and 225 days for protocol B. The overall infection rate after cranioplasty was 6.6% (50 cases) occurring at a median postoperative Day 31. Staphylococcus spp. were involved as the causative organisms in 60% of cases.

Culture swabs taken at the time of initial craniectomy were available for 640 ABFs as 114 ABFs were not salvageable. One hundred twenty-six (20%) were culture positive. Eighty-nine +ABFs occurred during protocol A and were discarded in favor of a synthetic prosthesis at the time of cranioplasty, whereas 37 +ABFs occurred under protocol B and were reimplanted at the time of cranioplasty.

Cranioplasty material did not affect the postcranioplasty infection rate. There was no significant difference in the infection rate among sterile ABFs (7%), +ABFs (8%), and synthetic prostheses (5.5%; p = 0.425). All 3 +ABF infections under protocol B were caused by organisms that differed from those in the original intraoperative bone culture from the initial craniectomy. A cranioplasty procedure ≤ 14 days after initial craniectomy was the only significant predictor of postcranioplasty infection (p = 0.007, HR 3.62).

CONCLUSIONS

Cranioplasty procedures should be performed at least 14 days after initial craniectomy to minimize infection risk. Obtaining intraoperative bone cultures at the time of craniectomy in the absence of clinical infection should be discontinued as the culture results were not a useful predictor of postcranioplasty infection and led to the unnecessary use of synthetic prostheses and increased health care costs.

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Jürgen Piek, Randall M. Chesnut, Lawrence F. Marshall, Marjan van Berkum-Clark, Melville R. Klauber, Barbara A. Blunt, Howard M. Eisenberg, John A. Jane, Anthony Marmarou and Mary A. Foulkes

✓ In order to define the role of intracranial and extracranial complications in determining outcome from severe head injury, 734 patients from the Traumatic Coma Data Bank were analyzed. Nine classes of intracranial and 13 classes of extracranial complications occurring within the first 14 days after admission were analyzed, while controlling for age, admission Glasgow Coma Scale motor score, early hypoxia or hypotension, and severe extracranial trauma. Outcome for survivors was based on the last recorded Glasgow Outcome Scale score, obtained a median of 521 days after injury. Intracranial complications did not significantly alter outcome for the study group. Of the extracranial complications, pulmonary, cardiovascular, coagulation, and electrolyte disorders occurred most frequently at 2 to 4 days. Infections developed later, peaking at 5 to 11 days. Gastrointestinal, renal, and hepatic complications followed no specific time course. Electrolyte abnormalities were the most frequent occurrence (59% of patients) but did not alter outcome. Pulmonary infections (41%), shock (29%, systemic blood pressure ≤ 90 mm Hg for 30 minutes or more), coagulopathy (19%), and septicemia (10%) were significant independent predictors of an unfavorable outcome. Backward-elimination, stepwise logistic regression modeling indicated that the estimated reduction of unfavorable outcome was 2.9% for the elimination of pneumonia, 3.1% for coagulation disturbances, 1.5% for septicemia, and 9.3% for shock. These data suggest that extracranial complications are highly influential in determining the outcome from severe head injury and that significant improvements in outcome in a sizeable proportion of patients could be accomplished by improving the ability to prevent or reverse pneumonia, hypotension, coagulopathy, and sepsis.