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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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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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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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Mark N. Hadley

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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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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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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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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.

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Daniel H. Fulkerson, Shobhan Vachhrajani, Bradley N. Bohnstedt, Neal B. Patel, Akash J. Patel, Benjamin D. Fox, Andrew Jea and Joel C. Boaz

Object

Premature, low-birth-weight infants with posthemorrhagic hydrocephalus have a high risk of shunt obstruction and infection. Established risk factors for shunt failure include grade of the hemorrhage and age at shunt insertion. There is anecdotal evidence that the amount of red blood cells or protein levels in the CSF may affect shunt performance. However, this has not been analyzed specifically for this cohort of high-risk patients. Therefore, the authors performed this study to examine whether any statistical relationship exists between the CSF constituents and the rate of shunt malfunction or infection in this population.

Methods

A retrospective cohort study was performed on premature infants born at Riley Hospital for Children from 2000 to 2009. Inclusion criteria were a CSF sample analyzed within 2 weeks prior to shunt insertion, low birth weight (< 1500 grams), prematurity (birth prior to 37 weeks estimated gestational age), and shunt insertion for posthemorrhagic hydrocephalus. Data points included the gestational age at birth and shunt insertion, weight at birth and shunt insertion, history of CNS infection prior to shunt insertion, shunt failure, shunt infection, and the levels of red blood cells, white blood cells, protein, and glucose in the CSF. Statistical analysis was performed to determine any association between shunt outcome and the CSF parameters.

Results

Fifty-eight patients met the study entry criteria. Ten patients (17.2%) had primary shunt failure within 3 months of insertion. Nine patients (15.5%) had shunt infection within 3 months. A previous CNS infection prior to shunt insertion was a statistical risk factor for shunt failure (p = 0.0290) but not for shunt infection. There was no statistical relationship between shunt malfunction or infection and the CSF levels of red blood cells, white blood cells, protein, or glucose before shunt insertion.

Conclusions

Low-birth-weight premature infants with posthemorrhagic hydrocephalus have a high rate of shunt failure and infection. The authors did not find any association of shunt failure or infection with CSF cell count, protein level, or glucose level. Therefore, it may not be useful to base the timing of shunt insertion on CSF parameters.

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James A. J. King, Shobhan Vachhrajani, James M. Drake and James T. Rutka

Object

Achondroplasia is the most common form of human short-limbed dwarfism. The pediatric neurosurgeon is frequently required to treat children with achondroplasia who have hydrocephalus, cervicomedullary compression (CMD), and spinal canal stenosis. Accordingly, the authors have reviewed the experience of neurosurgery in children with achondroplasia at The Hospital for Sick Children.

Methods

The medical records and neurosurgery database at The Hospital for Sick Children were searched to identify all children with achondroplasia who underwent at least 1 neurosurgical procedure between 1956 and the present.

Results

Twenty-nine children with achondroplasia underwent 85 surgical procedures: 52 for CSF diversion in 12 patients, 20 for CMD in 18 patients, 8 for spinal disorders in 4 patients, and 5 for miscellaneous purposes in 4 patients. The CSF shunts were placed almost exclusively before 1990 and were associated with a significant number of complications. Patients undergoing CMD did very well, with only 1 patient failing to improve clinically.

Conclusions

This review provides a historical perspective on the evolution of treatment of pediatric patients with achondroplasia. The use of CSF diversion procedures, formerly fraught with complications, is now rare following the realization of the natural history of CSF space enlargement in these patients. Cervicomedullary compression is more commonly recognized due to better imaging. Central apnea is now better detected by routine sleep studies. Spine surgery, although rare, requires evaluation of both spinal stenosis and instability. These patients are best evaluated by a multidisciplinary team.