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Michael R. Levitt, Toba N. Niazi, Richard A. Hopper, Richard G. Ellenbogen and Jeffrey G. Ojemann

Chiari malformation Type I (CM-I) is associated with syndromic and nonsyndromic craniosynostosis in pediatric patients, and the surgical management of CM-I in such cases is controversial. Previous guidelines have recommended simultaneous cranial vault expansion and suboccipital decompression. However, spontaneous resolution of CM-I has been observed, and the combined procedure carries additional surgical risks. The authors report the case of a 6-month-old boy with Crouzon syndrome, CM-I, and a cervical syrinx who underwent posterior cranial vault release without suboccipital decompression. Imaging at the 3-month follow-up visit demonstrated complete resolution of the CM-I, improvement in CSF flow, and reduction in the size of the syrinx. This case suggests that up-front suboccipital decompression may not be necessary in patients with craniosynostosis and CM-I. A strategy of initial cranial vault release, followed by watchful waiting and radiographic surveillance, is proposed.

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Ryan P. Morton, Renee M. Reynolds, Rohan Ramakrishna, Michael R. Levitt, Richard A. Hopper, Amy Lee and Samuel R. Browd

Object

In this study, the authors describe their experience with a low-dose head CT protocol for a preselected neurosurgical population at a dedicated pediatric hospital (Seattle Children's Hospital), the largest number of patients with this protocol reported to date.

Methods

All low-dose head CT scans between October 2011 and November 2012 were reviewed. Two different low-dose radiation dosages were used, at one-half or one-quarter the dose of a standard head CT scan, based on patient characteristics agreed upon by the neurosurgery and radiology departments. Patient information was also recorded, including diagnosis and indication for CT scan.

Results

Six hundred twenty-four low-dose head CT procedures were performed within the 12-month study period. Although indications for the CT scans varied, the most common reason was to evaluate the ventricles and catheter placement in hydrocephalic patients with shunts (70%), followed by postoperative craniosynostosis imaging (12%). These scans provided adequate diagnostic imaging, and no patient required a follow-up full-dose CT scan as a result of poor image quality on a low-dose CT scan. Overall physician comfort and satisfaction with interpretation of the images was high. An additional 2150 full-dose head CT scans were performed during the same 12-month time period, making the total number of CT scans 2774. This value compares to 3730 full-dose head CT scans obtained during the year prior to the study when low-dose CT and rapid-sequence MRI was not a reliable option at Seattle Children's Hospital. Thus, over a 1-year period, 22% of the total CT scans were able to be converted to low-dose scans, and full-dose CT scans were able to be reduced by 42%.

Conclusions

The implementation of a low-dose head CT protocol substantially reduced the amount of ionizing radiation exposure in a preselected population of pediatric neurosurgical patients. Image quality and diagnostic utility were not significantly compromised.