Mandeep S. Tamber and Robert P. Naftel
Choosing between competing options (shunt or endoscopic third ventriculostomy) for the management of hydrocephalus requires patients and caregivers to make a subjective judgment about the relative importance of risks and benefits associated with each treatment. In the context of this particular decision, little is known about what treatment-related factors are important and how they are prioritized in order to arrive at a treatment preference.
The Hydrocephalus Association electronically distributed a survey to surgically treated hydrocephalus patients or their families. Respondents rated the importance of various surgical attributes in their decision-making about treatment choice, and also indicated their preference in hypothetical scenarios involving a trade-off between potential risks and benefits of treatment. Rank-order correlations were used to determine whether certain predictor variables affected the rating of factors or hypothetical treatment choice.
Eighty percent of 414 respondents rated procedural risks, minimizing repeat surgery, and improving long-term brain function as being very or extremely important factors when deciding on a treatment; 69% rated the need to implant a permanent device similarly. Parent-respondents rated procedural risks higher than patient-respondents. A majority of respondents (n = 209, 54%) chose a procedure with higher surgical risk if it meant that implantation of a permanent device was not required, and respondents were more likely to choose this option if they discussed both treatment options with their surgeon prior to their initial intervention (Spearman rho 0.198, p = 0.001).
Although only 144 of 384 total respondents (38%) chose a less established operation if it meant less repeat surgery, patient-respondents were more likely to choose this option compared to parent-respondents (Spearman rho 0.145, p = 0.005). Likewise, patient-respondents were more likely than parent-respondents to choose an operation that involved less repeat surgery and led to worse long-term brain function (Spearman rho 0.160, p = 0.002), an option that was chosen by only 23 (6%) of respondents overall.
This study is the first exploration of patient/parental factors that influence treatment preference in pediatric hydrocephalus. Procedural risks, minimizing repeat operations, and the desire to maximize long-term cognitive function appeared to be the most important attributes that influenced treatment decisions that the survey respondents had made in the past. Patients and/or their caregivers appear to see some inherent benefit in being shunt free. It appears that fear of multiple revision operations may drive treatment choice in some circumstances.
Abhaya V. Kulkarni
Patrick D. Kelly, Aaron M. Yengo-Kahn, and Robert P. Naftel
The failure-free survival of ventriculoperitoneal shunts (VPSs) following externalization for distal catheter infection or malfunction has not been adequately explored. Conversion to a ventriculoatrial shunt (VAS) may allow earlier reinternalization in lieu of waiting for the peritoneum to be suitable for reimplantation. This option is tempered by historical concerns regarding high rates of VAS failure, and the risks of rare complications are rampant.
In this retrospective cohort study, all patients undergoing externalization of a VPS at a single institution between 2005 and 2020 were grouped according to the new distal catheter terminus location at the time of reinternalization (VPS vs VAS). The primary outcomes were failure-free shunt survival and duration of shunt externalization. Secondary outcomes included early (< 6 months) shunt failure.
Among 36 patients, 43 shunt externalization procedures were performed. Shunts were reinternalized as VPSs in 25 cases and VASs in 18 cases. The median failure-free survival was 1002 (interquartile range [IQR] 161–3449) days for VPSs and 1163 (IQR 360–2927) days for VASs. There was no significant difference in shunt survival according to the new distal catheter terminus (log-rank, p = 0.73). Conversion to a VAS was not associated with shorter duration of shunt externalization (Wilcoxon rank-sum, p = 0.64); the median duration was 7 (IQR 5–11) days for VPSs and 8 (IQR 6–15) days for VASs. No rare complications occurred in the VAS group.
Shunt failure-free survival rates following externalization are similar to published survival rates for nonexternalized shunts. There was no significant difference in survival between reinternalized VPSs and VASs. Although the VAS was not associated with a shortened duration of externalization, this finding is confounded by strong institutional preference for the VPS over the VAS. Early conversion to the VAS may be a viable treatment option in light of reassuring modern VAS survival data.
Robert P. Naftel, Gavin T. Reed, Abhaya V. Kulkarni, and John C. Wellons III
Endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) success is dependent on patient characteristics including age, origin of hydrocephalus, and history of shunt therapy. Using these factors, an Endoscopic Third Ventriculostomy Success Score (ETVSS) model was constructed to predict success of therapy. This study reports a single-institution experience with ETV and explores the ETVSS model validity.
A retrospective chart review identified 151 consecutive patients who underwent ETV at a pediatric hospital between August 1995 and December 2009. Of these 151, 136 patients had at least 6 months of clinical follow-up. Data concerning patient characteristics, operative characteristics, radiological findings, complications, and success of ETV were collected. The actual success rates were compared with those predicted by the ETVSS model.
The actual success rate of ETV at 6 months was 68.4% (93 of 136 patients), which compared well to the predicted ETVSS of 76.5% ± 12.5% (± SD). The C-statistic was 0.74 (95% CI 0.65–0.83), suggesting that the ability of the ETVSS to discriminate failures from successes was good. Secondary ETV was found to have a hazard ratio for failure of 4.2 (95% CI 2.4–7.2) compared with primary ETV (p < 0.001). The complication rate was 9.3% with no deaths. At the first radiological follow-up, the increased size of ventricles had a hazard ratio for failure of 3.0 (95% CI 1.5–6.0) compared with patients in whom ventricle size either remained stable or decreased (p = 0.002).
The ETVSS closely predicts the actual success of ETV, fitting the statistical model well. Shortcomings of the model were identified in overestimating success in patients with ETVSS ≤ 70, which may be attributable to the poor success of secondary ETVs in the authors' patient population.
Robert P. Naftel, R. Shane Tubbs, Gavin T. Reed, and John C. Wellons III
The authors describe a new technique that may be used in conjunction with neuronavigation or freehand techniques for obtaining small ventricular access. Using this modification, the introducer sheath and trocar can be guided down a ventriculostomy tract with endoscopic visual control. With increasing focus on endoscopic therapies in patients without hydrocephalus, this adjunct, based on the authors' experience, may provide an additional technique for safely treating patients.
Christopher M. Bonfield, Rachel Pellegrino, Jillian Berkman, Robert P. Naftel, Chevis N. Shannon, and John C. Wellons III
Both the American Association of Neurological Surgeons/Congress of Neurological Surgeons Joint Section on Pediatric Neurological Surgery (AANS/CNS Pediatric Section) and the International Society for Pediatric Neurosurgery (ISPN) annual meetings provide a platform for pediatric neurosurgeons to present, discuss, and disseminate current academic research. An ultimate goal of these meetings is to publish presented results in peer-reviewed journals. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the publication rates of oral presentations from the 2009, 2010, and 2011 AANS/CNS Pediatric Section and ISPN annual meetings in peer-reviewed journals.
All oral presentations from the 2009, 2010, and 2011 AANS/CNS Pediatric Section and ISPN annual meetings were reviewed. Abstracts were obtained from the AANS/CNS Pediatric Section and ISPN conference proceedings, which are available online. Author and title information were used to search PubMed to identify those abstracts that had progressed to publication in peer-reviewed journals. The title of the journal, year of the publication, and authors’ country of origin were also recorded.
Overall, 60.6% of the presented oral abstracts from the AANS/CNS Pediatric Section meetings progressed to publication in peer-reviewed journals, as compared with 40.6% of the ISPN presented abstracts (p = 0.0001). The journals in which the AANS/CNS Pediatric Section abstract-based publications most commonly appeared were Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics (52%), Child’s Nervous System (11%), and Journal of Neurosurgery (8%). The ISPN abstracts most often appeared in the journals Child’s Nervous System (29%), Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics (14%), and Neurosurgery (9%). Overall, more than 90% of the abstract-based articles were published within 4 years after presentation of the abstracts on which they were based.
Oral abstract presentations at two annual pediatric neurosurgery meetings have publication rates in peer-reviewed journal comparable to those for oral abstracts at other national and international neurosurgery meetings. The vast majority of abstract-based papers are published within 4 years of the meeting at which the abstract was presented; however, the AANS/CNS Pediatric Section abstracts are published at a significantly higher rate than ISPN abstracts, which could indicate the different meeting sizes, research goals, and resources of US authors compared with those of authors from other countries.
Paul M. Foreman, Robert P. Naftel, Thomas A. Moore II, and Mark N. Hadley
Since its introduction in 1976, the lateral extracavitary approach (LECA) has been used to access ventral and ventrolateral pathology affecting the thoracolumbar spine. Reporting of outcomes and complications has been inconsistent. A case series and systematic review are presented to summarize the available data.
A retrospective review of medical records was performed, which identified 65 consecutive patients who underwent LECA for the treatment of thoracolumbar spine and spinal cord pathology. Cases were divided according to the presenting pathology. Neurological outcomes and complications were detailed. In addition, a systematic review of outcomes and complications in patients treated with the LECA as reported in the literature was completed.
Sixty-five patients underwent the LECA to the spine for the treatment of thoracic spine and spinal cord pathology. The most common indication for surgery was thoracic disc herniation (23/65, 35.4%). Neurological outcomes were excellent: 69.2% improved, 29.2% experienced no change, and 1.5% were worse. Two patients (3.1%) experienced a complication. The systematic review revealed comparable neurological outcomes (74.9% improved) but a notably higher complication rate (32.2%).
The LECA provides dorsal and unilateral ventrolateral access to and exposure of the thoracolumbar spine and spinal cord while allowing for posterior instrumentation through the same incision. Although excellent neurological results can be expected, the risk of pulmonary complications should be considered.
Nishit Mummareddy, Michael C. Dewan, Michael R. Mercier, Robert P. Naftel, John C. Wellons III, and Christopher M. Bonfield
The authors aimed to provide an updated and consolidated report on the epidemiology, management, and functional outcome of cases of myelomeningocele (MMC) in patients with scoliosis.
A comprehensive literature search was performed using MEDLINE, Embase, Google Scholar, and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews on cases of MMC in patients with scoliosis between 1980 and 2016. The initial search yielded 670 reports. After removing duplicates and applying inclusion criteria, we included 32 full-text original articles in this study.
Pooled statistical analysis of the included articles revealed the prevalence of scoliosis in MMC patients to be 53% (95% CI 0.42–0.64). Slightly more females (56%) are affected with both MMC and scoliosis than males. Motor level appears to be a significant predictor of prevalence, but not severity, of scoliosis in MMC patients. Treatment options for these patients include tethered cord release (TCR) and fusion surgeries. Curvature improvement and stabilization after TCR may be limited to patients with milder (< 50°) curves. Meanwhile, more aggressive fusion procedures such as a combined anterior-posterior approach may result in more favorable long-term scoliosis correction, albeit with greater complication rates. Quality of life metrics including ambulatory status and sitting stability are influenced by motor level of the lesion as well as the degree of the scoliosis curvature.
Scoliosis is among the most common and challenging comorbidities from which patients with MMC suffer. Although important epidemiological and management trends are evident, larger, prospective studies are needed to discover ways to more accurately counsel and more optimally treat these patients.
Silky Chotai, Bradley S. Guidry, Emily W. Chan, Katherine D. Sborov, Stephen Gannon, Chevis Shannon, Christopher M. Bonfield, John C. Wellons III, and Robert P. Naftel
Readmission and return to operating room after surgery are increasingly being used as a proxy for quality of care. Nearly 60% of these readmissions are unplanned, which translates into billions of dollars in health care costs. The authors set out to analyze the incidence of readmission at their center, to define causes of unplanned readmission, and to determine the preoperative and surgical variables associated with readmissions following pediatric neurosurgery.
A total of 536 children who underwent operations for neurosurgical diagnoses between 2012 and 2015 and who were later readmitted were included in the final analysis. Unplanned readmissions were defined to have occurred as a result of complications within 90 days after index surgery. Patient records were retrospectively reviewed to determine the primary diagnosis, surgery indication, and cause of readmission and return to operating room. The cost for index hospitalization, readmission episode, and total cost were derived based on the charges obtained from administrative data. Bivariate and multivariable analyses were conducted.
Of 536 patients readmitted in total, 17.9% (n = 96) were readmitted within 90 days. Of the overall readmissions, 11.9% (n = 64) were readmitted within 30 days, and 5.97% (n = 32) were readmitted between 31 and 90 days. The median duration between discharge and readmission was 20 days (first quartile [Q1]: 9 days, third quartile [Q3]: 36 days). The most common reason for readmission was shunt related (8.2%, n = 44), followed by wound infection (4.7%, n = 25). In the risk-adjusted multivariable logistic regression model for total 90-day readmission, patients with the following characteristics: younger age (p = 0.001, OR 0.886, 95% CI 0.824–0.952); “other” (nonwhite, nonblack) race (p = 0.024, OR 5.49, 95% CI 1.246–24.2); and those born preterm (p = 0.032, OR 2.1, 95% CI 1.1–4.12) had higher odds of being readmitted within 90 days after discharge. The total median cost for patients undergoing surgery in this study cohort was $11,520 (Q1: $7103, Q3: $19,264). For the patients who were readmitted, the median cost for a readmission episode was $8981 (Q1: $5051, Q3: $18,713).
Unplanned 90-day readmissions in pediatric neurosurgery are primarily due to CSF-related complications. Patients with the following characteristics: young age at presentation; “other” race; and children born preterm have a higher likelihood of being readmitted within 90 days after surgery. The median cost was > $8000, which suggests that the readmission episode can be as expensive as the index hospitalization. Clearly, readmission reduction has the potential for significant cost savings in pediatric neurosurgery. Future efforts, such as targeted education related to complication signs, should be considered in the attempt to reduce unplanned events. Given the single-center, retrospective study design, the results of this study are primarily applicable to this population and cannot necessarily be generalized to other institutions without further study.