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Luke G. McVeigh, Miracle C. Anokwute, Sixia Chen, and Andrew Jea

OBJECTIVE

Tethered cord release (TCR) is the gold standard treatment for tethered cord syndrome (TCS); however, there are significant shortcomings including high rates of retethering, especially in complex and recurrent cases. Spinal column shortening (SCS) is an alternative treatment for TCS intended to avoid these shortcomings. Early studies were limited to case reports and smaller case series; however, in recent years, larger case series and small cohort studies have been conducted. Given the increase in available data, a repeat systematic review and meta-analysis is warranted to assess the safety and efficacy of SCS for TCS.

METHODS

The authors conducted a systematic review using MEDLINE (OVID), Embase (Elsevier), and Web of Science records dating from 1944 to July 2021 to identify all articles investigating SCS for TCS. They performed standard and individual patient data (IPD) meta-analyses, with 2 independent reviewers using PRISMA-IPD guidelines. Primary outcomes were improvement of preoperative clinical symptoms of pain, motor weakness, and bladder and bowel dysfunction, and also surgical complication rate. Secondary outcomes included urodynamic improvement and health-related quality-of-life outcomes determined using patient-reported outcome tools. Individual study quality assessment was performed using a standardized assessment tool for case reports/series, and publication bias was assessed using funnel plot analyses.

RESULTS

The review yielded 15 studies with 191 cases of TCS treated with SCS. IPD were available in 11 studies with 89 cases. The average age at time of surgery was 28.0 years (range 5–76 years). The average follow-up time was 33.2 months (range 7–132 months). Improvement was observed at last follow-up in 60 of 70 (85.7%) patients with preoperative pain, in 38 of 60 (60.3%) patients with preoperative weakness, and in 36 of 76 (47.4%) patients with preoperative bladder or bowel dysfunction. Complications of CSF leak, new neurological deficit, wound infection, or reoperation occurred in 4 of 89 (4.5%) patients.

CONCLUSIONS

SCS may be considered a safe and efficacious treatment option for TCS in children and adults (level C evidence; class IIb recommendation), especially for recurrent and complex cases. Current evidence is likely to be affected by selection and publication bias. Prospective comparative studies of SCS and TCR for TCS are recommended to determine long-term duration of outcomes, long-term safety in skeletally immature children, and exact indications of SCS versus traditional TCR.

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Joshua D. Burks, Andrew K. Conner, Robert G. Briggs, Chad A. Glenn, Phillip A. Bonney, Ahmed A. Cheema, Sixia Chen, Naina L. Gross, and Timothy B. Mapstone

OBJECTIVE

Experience has led us to suspect an association between shunt malfunction and recent abdominal surgery, yet information about this potential relationship has not been explored in the literature. The authors compared shunt survival in patients who underwent abdominal surgery to shunt survival in our general pediatric shunt population to determine whether such a relationship exists.

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective review of all cases in which pediatric patients underwent ventriculoperitoneal shunt operations at their institution during a 7-year period. Survival time in shunt operations that followed abdominal surgery was compared with survival time of shunt operations in patients with no history of abdominal surgery. Univariate and multivariate analyses were used to identify factors associated with failure.

RESULTS

A total of 141 patients who underwent 468 shunt operations during the period of study were included; 107 of these 141 patients had no history of abdominal surgery and 34 had undergone a shunt operation after abdominal surgery. Shunt surgery performed more than 2 weeks after abdominal surgery was not associated with time to shunt failure (p = 0.86). Shunt surgery performed within 2 weeks after abdominal surgery was associated with time to failure (adjusted HR 3.6, 95% CI 1.3–9.6).

CONCLUSIONS

Undergoing shunt surgery shortly after abdominal surgery appears to be associated with shorter shunt survival. When possible, some patients may benefit from shunt placement utilizing alternative termini.