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Sandi Lam and Larry T. Khoo

Object

Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are minimally invasive procedures used to treat persistently symptomatic vertebral compression fractures (VCFs). Both interventions usually involve injection of polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA). The purpose of this technical note was to review the theory and surgical technique for a novel percutaneous system for fracture reduction and stabilization of VCFs by using bone graft.

Methods

This technical note highlights the Optimesh system as an alternative method of minimally invasive VCF reduction and stabilization with the delivery of a bone graft containment device. Instead of using PMMA as in vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty, this system allows the delivery of allograft and/or autograft bone, with its osteoinductive, osteoconductive, and osteogenic properties.

Conclusions

This system allows for restoration of sagittal alignment of the spine with direct control of bone graft delivery by using a mesh graft containment device that allows for ingrowth of new bone and vascular tissue.

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Sandi Lam, Ramesh Grandhi, and Stephanie Greene

Meconium staining of open myelomeningoceles has been reported to occur both prenatally and postnatally, but meconium staining of the brainstem has not been previously documented. The authors present a case of meconium staining of the brainstem in an infant with a meconium-stained myelomeningocele, Chiari malformation Type II, and hydrocephalus and discuss possible implications for prenatal and perinatal care.

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Nathan A. Shlobin, Mark Sheldon, and Sandi Lam

OBJECTIVE

Informed consent has served as a main principle of medical ethics and laws in the United States. The 1986 American Association of Neurological Surgeons Code of Ethics implied medicolegal liability for the failure to obtain informed consent without providing practical guidance regarding the application of informed consent to individual patient encounters in a medicolegal environment. Here, the authors aimed to identify baseline patient recall after discussions with neurosurgeons and their capacity to provide informed consent, describe the effects of interventions to improve patient comprehension, and elucidate the role of informed consent in malpractice litigation in neurosurgery. Their findings may guide neurosurgeons in discussions to properly inform patients and reduce the risk of litigation.

METHODS

A systematic review was conducted to explore informed consent within neurosurgery and its application to medicolegal liability using the PubMed, Embase, and Scopus databases. Titles and abstracts from articles identified in the search were read and selected for full-text review. Studies meeting prespecified inclusion criteria were reviewed in full and analyzed for study design, aim, population, interventions, and outcomes.

RESULTS

Of 1428 resultant articles, 21 were included in the review. Baseline patient recall was low, particularly for risks and alternatives of treatments, and even decreased over time. Cognitive impairment was noted as a factor limiting the ability to provide informed consent. Interventions incorporating a combination of modalities in informed consent discussions, a specialized consent form with points for neurosurgeons to check off upon discussion, interactive websites, question prompt lists, and illustrations were found to be effective in improving patient knowledge. Lack of informed consent was a common factor for malpractice litigation. Spine surgery was particularly prone to costly lawsuits. Payments were generally greater for plaintiff verdicts than for settlements.

CONCLUSIONS

The application of informed consent to patient encounters is an important facet of clinical practice. Neurosurgeons have a duty to provide patients with all pertinent information to allow them to make decisions about their care. The authors examined baseline patient comprehension and capacity, interventions to improve informed consent, and malpractice litigation; it appears that determining the proper capacity to provide informed consent and considering informed consent as a process that depends on the setting are important. There is room to improve the informed consent process centered on baseline patient health literacy and understanding as well as clear communication using multiple modalities.

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Dominic A. Harris and Sandi Lam

Object

The risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE) in children with traumatic brain injury (TBI) has not been well characterized given its rarity in the pediatric population. Investigation of risk factors for VTE in this group requires the use of a large sample size. Using nationally representative hospital discharge data for 2009, the authors of this study characterize the incidence and risk factors for VTE in children hospitalized for TBI.

Methods

The authors conducted a cross-sectional study using data from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Kids' Inpatient Database to examine VTE in TBI-associated hospitalizations for patients 20 years of age or younger during the year 2009.

Results

There were 58,529 children with TBI-related admissions, including 267 with VTE diagnoses. Venous thromboembolisms occurred in 4.6 per 1000 TBI-associated hospitalizations compared with 1.2 per 1000 pediatric hospitalizations overall. By adjusted logistic regression, patients significantly more likely to be diagnosed with VTE had the following: older age of 15–20 years (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 3.7, 95% CI 1.8–8.0), venous catheterization (aOR 3.0, 95% CI 2.0–4.6), mechanical ventilation (aOR 1.9, 95% CI 1.2–2.9), tracheostomy (aOR 2.3, 95% CI 1.3–4.0), nonaccidental trauma (aOR 2.8, 95% CI 1.1–6.9), increased length of stay (aOR 1.02, 95% CI 1.01–1.03), orthopedic surgery (aOR 2.4, 95% CI 1.8–3.4), and cranial surgery (aOR 1.8, 95% CI 1.1–2.8).

Conclusions

Using the Kids' Inpatient Database, the authors found that risk factors for VTE in the setting of TBI in the pediatric population include older age, venous catheterization, nonaccidental trauma, increased length of hospital stay, orthopedic surgery, and cranial surgery.

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Sandi Lam, Ulrich Batzdorf, and Marvin Bergsneider

Object

The most commonly reported treatment of primary syringomyelia has been laminectomy with duraplasty or direct shunting from the syrinx cavity. Diversion of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from the spinal subarachnoid space to peritoneal, atrial, or pleural cavities has been described previously in only a few case reports. Shunting of the CSF from the subarachnoid space rostral to the level of myelographic blockage may reduce the filling force of the syrinx cavity and avoids myelotomy and manipulation of the spinal cord parenchyma. The authors report on 7 patients who underwent thecal shunt placement for primary spinal syringomyelia.

Methods

This study is a retrospective review of a consecutive series. The authors reviewed the medical records and neuroimaging studies of 7 adult patients with posttraumatic, postsurgical, or postinflammatory syringomyelia treated with thecoperitoneal, thecopleural, or thecoatrial shunt placement at the University of California Los Angeles Medical Center. Myelographic evidence of partial or complete CSF flow obstruction was confirmed in the majority of patients. The mean duration of follow-up was 33 months (range 6–104 months).

Results

Six (86%) of 7 patients showed signs of clinical improvement, whereas 1 remained with stable clinical symptoms. Of the 6 patients with available postoperative imaging, each demonstrated a reduction in syrinx size. Three patients (43%) had ≥ 1 complication, including shunt-induced cerebellar tonsillar descent in 1 patient and infections in 2.

Conclusions

If laminectomy with duraplasty is not possible for the treatment of primary syringomyelia, placement of a thecoperitoneal shunt (or thecal shunt to another extrathecal cavity) should be considered. Although complications occurred in 3 of 7 patients, the complication rate was outweighed by a relatively high symptomatic and imaging improvement rate.

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Melissa A. LoPresti, Joshua Nguyen, and Sandi K. Lam

Head immobilization devices with skull pins are commonly used by neurosurgeons to stabilize the head for microsurgical techniques and to maintain accurate intraoperative neuronavigation. Pediatric patients, who may have open fontanelles, unfused sutures, and thin skulls, are vulnerable to complications during placement in pins. We review the various methods of pinning in pediatric neurosurgery and revisit the modified rubber stopper technique using a commonly available rubber stopper from a medication bottle over a standard adult pin of a Mayfield head clamp to prevent the pins from plunging through the thin pediatric skull.

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Aditya Vedantam, Daniel Hansen, Bradley Daniels, and Sandi Lam

The authors report an unusual case of acute, rapidly progressive, unilateral neck swelling following extubation after elective left anterior temporal lobectomy with amygdalohippocampectomy. Due to severe neck swelling, the patient developed critical airway compromise, brachial plexopathy, and Horner's syndrome. After critical airway management and appropriate rehabilitation, the patient recovered completely and remains seizure free at 1.5 years of follow-up.

This case highlights the importance of early recognition of acute postoperative sialadenitis and the steps needed to prevent serious morbidity and possible mortality from this rare complication.

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Caroline Hadley, Carrie A. Mohila, Thomas G. Luerssen, and Sandi Lam

In infants, the presence of a cranial defect may be due to a variety of traumatic, inflammatory, neoplastic, and congenital abnormalities. Differentiation between these possible etiologies is facilitated by clinical presentation, patient history, and physical examination. Congenital cutaneous neural crest–derived lesions are unlikely to be considered in a patient presenting with an asymptomatic cranial defect without overlying mass or skin pigmentation. The authors present an unusual case of a 2-month-old infant with an asymptomatic calvarial defect with normal overlying skin. Pathology of the excised tissue showed features consistent with a congenital neurocristic tumor: a pigmented, neural crest–derived hamartomatous tumor that typically presents as a melanotic skin lesion.

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Yimo Lin, Andrew Jea, Stephanie C. Melkonian, and Sandi Lam

OBJECT

Grade II spinal cord ependymomas occurring in pediatric patients are exceptionally rare neoplasms. In this paper the authors use a national cancer database to determine patient demographics, treatment patterns, and associated outcomes of this cohort.

METHODS

The Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) database was used to analyze subjects younger than 18 years with histologically confirmed diagnoses of Grade II spinal cord ependymoma from the years 1973 to 2008. Descriptive data on the demographic characteristics of this cohort and the associated treatment patterns are shown. The Kaplan-Meier method was used to estimate overall survival at 1, 2, 5, and 10 years.

RESULTS

This cohort comprised 64 pediatric subjects with Grade II spinal ependymoma. The median age was 13 years, nearly half of the patients were male, and most were white (84%). The median follow-up was 9.2 years. Overall survival at 5 and 10 years was 86% and 83%, respectively. Gross-total resection was achieved in 57% of subjects, and radiation therapy was administered to 36%. Radiation therapy was administered to 78% of subjects after subtotal resection but only to 19% of patients after gross-total resection; this difference was significant (p < 0.001). In a multivariate regression model analyzing sex, age at diagnosis, year of diagnosis, radiotherapy, and extent of resection, female sex was found to be an independent predictor of decreased mortality (HR 0.15 [95% CI 0.02–0.94], p = 0.04).

CONCLUSIONS

These data show long-term outcomes for pediatric patients with Grade II spinal ependymoma. Radiotherapy was more likely to be administered in cases of subtotal resection than in cases of gross-total resection. Female sex is associated with decreased mortality, while other demographic or treatment modalities are not.