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Clinical practice guidelines

A review

Shobhan Vachhrajani, Abhaya V. Kulkarni, and John R. W. Kestle

In the era of evidence-based medicine, clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) have become an integral part of many aspects of medical practice. Because practicing neurosurgeons rarely have the time or, in some cases, the methodological expertise, to assess and assimilate the totality of primary research, CPGs can in theory provide a vehicle through which neurosurgeons could more efficiently integrate the most current evidence into patient management. Clinical practice guidelines have been met with some skepticism, however, particularly within the neurosurgical community. Some have expressed concerns that the promise of CPGs has not been matched by the reality. Others who oppose CPGs fear that they hinder the art of medicine, and limit physician and patient autonomy. The purpose of this paper is to provide the practicing neurosurgeon with an up-to-date review of CPGs. The authors discuss some of the complexities and recent advancements in CPG development, appraisal, and publication. An overview of the various systems for grading medical evidence and issuing CPG recommendations, each of which has its advantages and disadvantages, is included, and the current knowledge on the impact of CPGs in 2 important realms, patient care and medicolegal issues, is discussed.

The purpose of this review is to provide a balanced, current synopsis of what CPGs are, how they are developed, and what they can and cannot do. The authors hope that this will allow neurosurgeons to make more informed decisions about the many CPGs that will inevitably become an essential component of medical practice in the years to come.

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Gigli saw facilitates safe minimal access sagittal suturectomy in infants

Robert M. Lober, Shobhan Vachhrajani, Salim Mancho, and Kambiz Kamian

The authors describe the use of the Gigli saw for craniectomy in minimal access surgery to address sagittal craniosynostosis. This modification allows for supine positioning and avoidance of potential brain compression with endoscopic instruments, and provides visually clear, safe, and facile removal of the fused suture and surrounding calvaria.

The video can be found here: https://vimeo.com/511568750.

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The natural history of brain contusion: an analysis of radiological and clinical progression

Clinical article

Hussein Alahmadi, Shobhan Vachhrajani, and Michael D. Cusimano

Object

Although brain contusions are a common neurosurgical condition, surprisingly little has been written about their natural history. The purpose of this study was to identify factors that predict radiological and clinically significant progression of this pattern of traumatic brain injury in patients who did not initially require surgery. On the basis of their results and the available literature, the authors suggest a management algorithm.

Methods

The authors performed a retrospective review of clinical and radiological records of consecutive patients with brain contusions who initially underwent conservative treatment. Significant radiological progression was defined as a 30% increase in contusion size on CT scans. Statistical analysis was performed to identify clinical and radiological predictors of CT contusion progression, the significance of progression, and predictors of clinical outcome.

Results

Of 98 patients identified with brain contusions who initially received conservative treatment, 44 (45%) had significant progression on CT, and 19 (19%) required surgical intervention. The initial size of the contusion and the presence of subdural hematoma were the only statistically significant predictors of CT progression in the multivariate analysis (p = 0.0212 and 0.05, respectively). Four patients required delayed contusion evacuation (3 had radiological progression on follow-up scans). Good Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) scores on presentation and younger age were predictors of eventual discharge from the hospital (OR 1.471, CI 1.233–1.755, p < 0.001 and OR 0.949, CI 0.912–0.988, p = 0.011, respectively). No patients with an initial GCS score of 15 or an initial contusion size < 14 ml required delayed evacuation.

Conclusions

Contusion progression is a common phenomenon that is seen more commonly in larger contusions. Patients with large contusions and low initial GCS scores are at risk for delayed deterioration. A proposed management algorithm for patients with contusions initially treated conservatively may help practitioners identify the best course of treatment.

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The epidemiological trends of head injury in the largest Canadian adult trauma center from 1986 to 2007

Clinical article

David W. Cadotte, Shobhan Vachhrajani, and Farhad Pirouzmand

Object

This study documents the epidemiology of head injury over the course of 22 years in the largest Level I adult trauma center in Canada. This information defines the current state, changing pattern, and relative distribution of demographic factors in a defined group of trauma patients. It will aid in hypothesis generation to direct etiological research, administrative resource allocation, and preventative strategies.

Methods

Data on all the trauma patients treated at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre (SHSC) from 1986 to 2007 were collected in a consecutive, prospective fashion. The authors reviewed these data from the Sunnybrook Trauma Registry Database in a retrospective fashion. The aggregate data on head injury included demographic data, cause of injury, and Injury Severity Score (ISS). The collected data were analyzed using univariate techniques to depict the trend of variables over years. The authors used the length of stay (LOS) and number of deaths per year (case fatality rate) as crude measures of outcome.

Results

A total of 16,678 patients were treated through the Level I trauma center at SHSC from January 1986 to December 2007. Of these, 9315 patients met the inclusion criteria (ISS > 12, head Abbreviated Injury Scale score > 0). The median age of all trauma patients was 36 years, and 69.6% were male. The median ISS of the head-injury patients was 27. The median age of this group of patients increased by 12 years over the study period. Motorized vehicle accidents accounted for the greatest number of head injuries (60.3%) although the relative percentage decreased over the study period. The median transfer time of patients sustaining a head injury was 2.58 hours, and there was an approximately 45 minute improvement over the 22-year study period. The median LOS in our center decreased from 19 to 10 days over the study period. The average case fatality rate was 17.4% over the study period. In multivariate analysis, more severe injuries were associated with increased LOS as was increasing time from injury to hospital presentation. Age and injury severity were independently predictive of mortality.

Conclusions

These data will provide useful information to guide future studies on the changing patterns of head injury, possible mechanisms of injury, and efficient resource allocation for management of this condition.

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Rotatory subluxation: experience from the Hospital for Sick Children

Clinical article

Alexandra D. Beier, Shobhan Vachhrajani, Simon H. Bayerl, Claudia Y. Diaz Aguilar, Maria Lamberti-Pasculli, and James M. Drake

Object

Diagnosis and management of atlantoaxial rotatory subluxation (AARS) is challenging because of its variability in clinical presentation. Although several treatment modalities have been employed, there remains no consensus on the most appropriate therapy. The authors explore this issue in their 9-year series on AARS.

Methods

Records of patients diagnosed radiologically and clinically with AARS between May 2001 and March 2010 were retrospectively reviewed. Of 40 patients identified, 24 were male and were on average 8.5 years of age (range 15 months–16 years). Causes of AARS included trauma, congenital abnormalities, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, infection, postsurgical event, and cryptogenic disease. Four patients had dual etiologies. Symptom duration varied: 29 patients had symptoms for less than 4 weeks, 5 patients had symptoms between 1 and 3 months, and 6 patients had symptoms for 3 months or more.

Results

Treatment with a cervical collar was sufficient in 21 patients. In 1 patient collar management failed and halter traction was used to reduce the subluxation. Seven patients underwent initial halter traction, but in 4 the subluxation progressed and the patients required halo traction. A halo vest was placed in 2 patients on presentation because the rotatory subluxation was severe; both patients required subsequent operative fusion. One patient required decompression and fusion due to severe canal compromise and myelopathy. All patients requiring fusion presented with subacute symptoms.

Conclusions

Management of AARS varies due to the spectrum of clinical presentations. Patients presenting acutely without neurological deficits can likely undergo collar therapy; those in whom the subluxation cannot be reduced or who present with a neurological deficit may require traction and/or surgical fixation. Patients presenting subacutely may be more prone to requiring operative intervention.

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Clinical practice guidelines

Mark N. Hadley

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Relative contributions of the middle meningeal artery and superficial temporal artery in revascularization surgery for moyamoya syndrome in children: the results of superselective angiography

Clinical article

James A. J. King, Derek Armstrong, Shobhan Vachhrajani, and Peter B. Dirks

Object

The authors used postoperative superselective angiography to assess the relative contributions of the middle meningeal artery (MMA) and the superficial temporal artery (STA) to revascularization following surgery for moyamoya syndrome in children.

Methods

Using the neurosurgical database at the Hospital for Sick Children, the authors reviewed the clinical and pre- and postoperative angiographic records obtained in patients with moyamoya syndrome undergoing superselective angiography. Patients were 16 years of age or younger and were undergoing revascularization surgery for moyamoya syndrome during the study period. Lateral internal carotid artery, external carotid artery, STA, and MMA angiograms were analyzed in the late arterial phase to assess the relative contributions of the STA and MMA to overall revascularization as determined by the external carotid artery injection.

Results

The total moyamoya surgical revascularization experience at the Hospital for Sick Children over a 12-year period (May 1996–December 2008) comprised 33 patients (20 girls and 13 boys) undergoing a total of 50 craniotomies. A decision was made in 2001 to perform superselective angiography postoperatively in patients with moyamoya syndrome. Superselective angiography was identified to have been performed postoperatively in 12 patients and 18 treated hemispheres, and it demonstrated that the MMA contributed more significantly than the STA in 11 (61%) of the 18 hemispheres.

Seven patients were Asian, 3 patients had neurofibromatosis Type 1, 1 had Down syndrome, and 2 had no apparent risk factors (1 patient was Asian and had neurofibromatosis Type 1). Stroke had occurred in 58% of patients and transient ischemic attacks in 50% prior to surgery. Within the first 30 days of surgery, there were 2 episodes of stroke (11.7% per surgically treated hemisphere and 18.2% per patient). Seventy-eight percent of hemispheres surgically treated exhibited excellent revascularization (Matsushima Grade A) on follow-up angiography, and there were no strokes documented in any patients more than 1 month after surgery, in a long-term follow-up of mean 4.1 years.

Conclusions

The contributions of the MMA to revascularization after pial synangiosis for moyamoya syndrome are significant and may frequently exceed the contribution of the STA when surgery is performed with preservation of dural vasculature and dural inversion.

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Neurosurgical management of intracranial epidermoid tumors in children

Clinical article

Ibrahim Ahmed, Kurtis I. Auguste, Shobhan Vachhrajani, Peter B. Dirks, James M. Drake, and James T. Rutka

Object

Epidermoid tumors are benign lesions representing 1% of all intracranial tumors. There have been few pediatric series of intracranial epidermoid tumors reported previously. The authors present their experience in the management of these lesions.

Methods

The neurosurgical database at the Hospital for Sick Children was searched for children with surgically managed intracranial epidermoid tumors. The patients' charts were reviewed for demographic data, details of clinical presentation, surgical therapy, and follow-up. Ethics board approval was obtained for this study.

Results

Seven children, all girls, were identified who met the inclusion criteria between 1980 and 2007. The average age at surgery was 11.2 years (range 8–15 years), and the mean maximal tumor diameter was 2.1 cm. Headache was the most common presenting symptom, and 1 tumor was found incidentally. Most patients had normal neurological examinations, but meningism was found in 2 cases. There were 3 cerebellopontine angle lesions, 1 pontomedullary lesion, and 3 supratentorial tumors. Hydrocephalus developed in 1 patient after aseptic meningitis, and she underwent shunt placement. There were no operative deaths. Complete resection could be performed in 2 patients. One patient experienced a small recurrence that did not require a repeated operation, while 1 subtotally resected lesion recurred and the patient underwent a second operation.

Conclusions

Intracranial epidermoid tumors are rare in the pediatric population. Total resection is desirable to minimize the risk of postoperative aseptic meningitis, hydrocephalus, and tumor recurrence. Aggressive neurosurgical resection may be associated with cranial nerve or ischemic deficits, however. In these cases, neurosurgical judgment at the time of surgery is warranted to ensure maximum resection while minimizing postoperative neurological deficits.

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Estimation of normal computed tomography measurements for the upper cervical spine in the pediatric age group

Clinical article

Shobhan Vachhrajani, Anish N. Sen, Krishna Satyan, Abhaya V. Kulkarni, Sherri B. Birchansky, and Andrew Jea

Object

Upper cervical spine injuries in the pediatric age group have been recognized as extremely unstable from ligamentous disruption and as potentially lethal. Few measurement norms have been published for the pediatric upper cervical spine to help diagnose this pathological state. Instead, adult measurement techniques and results are usually applied inappropriately to children. The authors propose using high-resolution reconstructed CT scans to define a range of normal for a collection of selected upper cervical spine measurements in the pediatric age group.

Methods

Sagittal and coronal reformatted images were obtained from thin axial CT scans obtained in 42 children (< 18 years) in a 2-month period. There were 25 boys and 17 girls. The mean age was 100.9 months (range 1–214 months). Six CT scans were obtained for nontrauma indications, and 36 were obtained as part of a trauma protocol and later cleared for cervical spine injury. Six straightforward and direct linear distances—basion-dental interval (BDI); atlantodental interval (ADI); posterior atlantodental interval (PADI); right and left lateral mass interval (LMI); right and left craniocervical interval (CCI); and prevertebral soft-tissue thickness at C-2—that minimized logistical and technical distortions were measured and recorded. Statistical analysis including interobserver agreement, age stratification, and sex differences was performed for each of the 6 measurements.

Results

The mean ADI was 2.25 ± 0.24 mm (± SD), the mean PADI was 18.3 ± 0.07 mm, the mean BDI was 7.28 ± 0.10 mm, and the mean prevertebral soft tissue width at C-2 was 4.45 ± 0.43 mm. The overall mean CCI was 2.38 ± 0.44 mm, and the overall mean LMI was 2.91 ± 0.49 mm. Linear regression analysis demonstrated statistically significant age effects for PADI (increased 0.02 mm/month), BDI (decreased 0.02 mm/month), and CCI (decreased 0.01 mm/month). Similarly significant effects were found for sex; females demonstrated on average a smaller CCI by 0.26 mm and a smaller PADI by 2.12 mm. Moderate to high interrater reliability was demonstrated across all parameters.

Conclusions

Age-dependent and age-independent normal CT measurements of the upper cervical spine will help to differentiate physiological and pathological states in children. The BDI appears to change significantly with age but not sex; on the other hand, the LMI and ADI appear to be age-independent measures. This preliminary study suggests acceptable levels of interrater reliability, and further expanded study will aim to validate these measurements to produce a profile of normal upper cervical spine measurements in children.

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Corpus callosotomy in children with intractable epilepsy using frameless stereotactic neuronavigation: 12-year experience at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto

Andrew Jea, Shobhan Vachhrajani, Keyne K. Johnson, and James T. Rutka

Object

Although corpus callosotomy has been used effectively since the late 1930s to treat severe, medically intractable seizure disorders, particularly atonic or drop-attack seizures, controversy remains as to when, how, and how much surgery should be performed. Intraoperative determination of the extent of callosotomy, the need to stage the procedure, and the side of the interhemispheric approach represent technical issues that remain debatable. The authors report the 12-year experience of the senior author as well as surgical outcomes with corpus callosotomy using a frameless stereotactic neuronavigation system (ISG View Wand and BrainLab).

Methods

Thirteen consecutive children at The Hospital for Sick Children underwent single-stage corpus callosotomy for medically intractable seizures. The mean age was 10.3 years. Five children underwent partial callosotomy, and 8 underwent complete callosotomy. The side of operative approach to avoid large parasagittal bridging veins was determined by preoperative study of 3D MR imaging/MR venography reconstructed by the neuronavigation system. The extent of callosotomy was determined using intraoperative feedback from the neuronavigation system and postoperative MR imaging.

Results

The extent of callosotomy determined by intraoperative neuronavigation and postoperative MR imaging correlated closely in all cases. There were no operative deaths. There was no significant postoperative morbidity related to venous infarction. Four of 5 patients in the partial callosotomy cohort and 7 of 8 patients in the complete callosotomy cohort showed significant improvement in seizure control.

Conclusions

The use of frameless stereotactic neuronavigation is a safe, effective, and important surgical adjunct in the planning and execution of successful corpus callosotomy in children with intractable epilepsy.