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Andrew T. Hale, David P. Stonko, Amber Brown, Jaims Lim, David J. Voce, Stephen R. Gannon, Truc M. Le and Chevis N. Shannon

OBJECTIVE

Modern surgical planning and prognostication requires the most accurate outcomes data to practice evidence-based medicine. For clinicians treating children following traumatic brain injury (TBI) these data are severely lacking. The first aim of this study was to assess published CT classification systems in the authors’ pediatric cohort. A pediatric-specific machine-learning algorithm called an artificial neural network (ANN) was then created that robustly outperformed traditional CT classification systems in predicting TBI outcomes in children.

METHODS

The clinical records of children under the age of 18 who suffered a TBI and underwent head CT within 24 hours after TBI (n = 565) were retrospectively reviewed.

RESULTS

“Favorable” outcome (alive with Glasgow Outcome Scale [GOS] score ≥ 4 at 6 months postinjury, n = 533) and “unfavorable” outcome (death at 6 months or GOS score ≤ 3 at 6 months postinjury, n = 32) were used as the primary outcomes. The area under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve (AUC) was used to delineate the strength of each CT grading system in predicting survival (Helsinki, 0.814; Rotterdam, 0.838; and Marshall, 0.781). The AUC for CT score in predicting GOS score ≤ 3, a measure of overall functionality, was similarly predictive (Helsinki, 0.717; Rotterdam, 0.748; and Marshall, 0.663). An ANN was then constructed that was able to predict 6-month outcomes with profound accuracy (AUC = 0.9462 ± 0.0422).

CONCLUSIONS

This study showed that machine-learning can be leveraged to more accurately predict TBI outcomes in children.

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Emily W. Chan, Stephen R. Gannon, Chevis N. Shannon, Jeffrey E. Martus, Gregory A. Mencio and Christopher M. Bonfield

OBJECTIVE

Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS), the most common type of scoliosis, often presents immediately prior to a woman’s childbearing years; however, research investigating the impact of AIS on women’s health, particularly pregnancy delivery outcomes, is sparse, with existing literature reporting mixed findings. Similarly limited are studies examining the change in scoliotic curve during or after pregnancy. Therefore, this study aims to determine 1) the impact of scoliotic curvature on obstetric complications (preterm births, induction of labor, and urgent/emergency caesarean section delivery), 2) regional anesthetic decision making and success during delivery for these patients, and 3) the effect of pregnancy on curve progression.

METHODS

Records of all pregnant patients diagnosed with AIS at the authors’ institution who delivered between January 2002 and September 2016 were retrospectively reviewed. Demographic information, pre- and postpartum radiographic Cobb angles, and clinical data for each pregnancy and delivery were recorded and analyzed. The Wilcoxon rank-sum test and the Wilcoxon signed-rank test were used for statistical analyses.

RESULTS

Fifty-nine patients (84 deliveries) were included; 14 patients had undergone prior posterior spinal fusion. The median age at AIS diagnosis was 15.2 years, and the median age at delivery was 21.8 years. Overall, the median major Cobb angle prior to the first pregnancy was 25° (IQR 15°–40°). Most births were by spontaneous vaginal delivery (n = 45; 54%); elective caesarean section was performed in 17 deliveries (20%). Obstetric complications included preterm birth (n = 18; 21.4%), induction of labor (n = 20; 23.8%), and urgent/emergency caesarean section (n = 12; 14.0%); none were associated with severity of scoliosis curve or prior spinal fusion. Attempts at spinal anesthesia were successful 99% of the time (70/71 deliveries), even among the patients who had undergone prior spinal fusion (n = 13). There were only 3 instances of provider refusal to administer spinal anesthesia. In the subset of 11 patients who underwent postpartum scoliosis radiography, there was no statistically significant change in curve magnitude either during or immediately after pregnancy.

CONCLUSIONS

The results of this study suggest that there was no effect of the severity of scoliosis on delivery complications or regional anesthetic decision making in pregnant patients with AIS. Moreover, scoliosis was not observed to progress significantly during or immediately after pregnancy. Larger prospective studies are needed to further investigate these outcomes, the findings of which can guide the prenatal education and counseling of pregnant patients with AIS.

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Babatunde J. Akinpelu, Scott L. Zuckerman, Stephen R. Gannon, Ashly Westrick, Chevis Shannon and Robert P. Naftel

OBJECTIVE

Isolated transverse and spinous process fractures (TPFx and SPFx) in the thoracic and/or lumbar region have been deemed clinically insignificant in the adult population. This same rule is often applied to the pediatric population; however, little evidence exists in this younger group. The goal of this study was to describe the clinical, radiographic, and long-term data on isolated TPFx and SPFx in an exclusively pediatric population.

METHODS

A retrospective chart review at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt University identified 82 pediatric patients with isolated TPFx and/or SPFx following a traumatic event between January 2000 and December 2013. Patient demographic information, presenting symptoms, radiographic characteristics, and follow-up data were collected. Follow-up was used to determine the outcome (presence of neurological deficits) of such injuries via complete physical examination and, when available, radiographic evidence.

RESULTS

In the 82 identified patients, the mean age was 15.5 ± 3.1 years (mean is expressed ± SD throughout), with 72 injuries (87.8%) resulting from a motor vehicle, motorcycle, or all-terrain vehicle accident. There was a mean of 1.7 ± 1.0 fractured vertebral levels involved and a mean of 1.8 ± 1.1 fractures was identified per patient. Seventy-one patients (86.6%) needed bedside pain control, 7 (8.5%) were prescribed a brace, and 4 patients (4.9%) received a collar. Physical therapy was recommended for 12 patients (14.6%). A total of 84.1% had follow-up, and the mean length of follow-up was 19 ± 37 months. No patients had true neurological deficits at presentation or follow-up as a result of their isolated fractures, whereas 95.1% had other associated system injuries.

CONCLUSIONS

These data shows that there is no appreciable long-term complication associated with isolated thoracic and/or lumbar TPFx and/or SPFx in an exclusively pediatric population. Because these fractures are, however, associated with high-energy blunt trauma, they often result in associated soft-tissue or other skeletal injury. All pediatric patients in the cohort benefited from conservative management and aggressive treatment of their comorbidities.

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Michael C. Dewan, Jaims Lim, Clinton D. Morgan, Stephen R. Gannon, Chevis N. Shannon, John C. Wellons III and Robert P. Naftel

OBJECTIVE

Endoscopic third ventriculostomy with choroid plexus cauterization (ETV/CPC) offers an alternative to shunt treatment for infantile hydrocephalus. Diagnosing treatment failure is dependent on infantile hydrocephalus metrics, including head circumference, fontanel quality, and ventricle size. However, it is not clear to what degree these metrics should be expected to change after ETV/CPC. Using these clinical metrics, the authors present and analyze the decision making in cases of ETV/CPC failure.

METHODS

Infantile hydrocephalus metrics, including bulging fontanel, head circumference z-score, and frontal and occipital horn ratio (FOHR), were compared between ETV/CPC failures and successes. Treatment outcome predictive values of metrics individually and in combination were calculated.

RESULTS

Forty-four patients (57% males, median age 1.2 months) underwent ETV/CPC for hydrocephalus; of these patients, 25 (57%) experienced failure at a median time of 51 days postoperatively. Patients experiencing failure were younger than those experiencing successful treatment (0.8 vs 3.9 months, p = 0.01). During outpatient follow-up, bulging anterior fontanel, progressive macrocephaly, and enlarging ventricles each demonstrated a positive predictive value (PPV) of no less than 71%, but a bulging anterior fontanel remained the most predictive indicator of ETV/CPC failure, with a PPV of 100%, negative predictive value of 73%, and sensitivity of 72%. The highest PPVs and specificities existed when the clinical metrics were present in combination, although sensitivities decreased expectedly. Only 48% of failures were diagnosed on the basis all 3 hydrocephalus metrics, while only 37% of successes were negative for all 3 metrics. In the remaining 57% of patients, a diagnosis of success or failure was made in the presence of discordant data.

CONCLUSIONS

Successful ETV/CPC for infantile hydrocephalus was evaluated in relation to fontanel status, head growth, and change in ventricular size. In most patients, a designation of failure or success was made in the setting of discordant data.

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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

OBJECTIVE

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.

METHODS

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.

RESULTS

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).

CONCLUSIONS

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.

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Lucy He, Stephen Gannon, Chevis N. Shannon, Brandon G. Rocque, Jay Riva-Cambrin and Robert P. Naftel

OBJECTIVE

The success of endoscopic third ventriculostomy with choroid plexus cauterization may have associations with age, etiology of hydrocephalus, previous shunting, cisternal scarring, and possibly aqueduct patency. This study aimed to measure interrater reliability among surgeons in identifying cisternal scarring and aqueduct patency.

METHODS

Using published definitions of cistern scarring and aqueduct patency, 7 neuroendoscopists with training from Dr. Warf in Uganda and 7 neuroendoscopists who were not trained by Dr. Warf rated cistern status from 30 operative videos and aqueduct patency from 26 operative videos. Interrater agreement was calculated using Fleiss' kappa coefficient (κ). Fisher's 2-tailed exact test was used to identify differences in the rates of agreement between the Warf-trained and nontrained groups compared with Dr. Warf's reference answer.

RESULTS

Aqueduct status, among all raters, showed substantial agreement with κ = 0.663 (confidence interval [CI] 0.626–0.701); within the trained group and nontrained groups, there was substantial agreement with κ = 0.677 (CI 0.593–0.761) and κ = 0.631 (CI 0.547–0.715), respectively. The identification of cistern scarring was less reliable, with moderate agreement among all raters with κ = 0.536 (CI 0.501–0.571); within the trained group and nontrained groups, there was moderate agreement with κ = 0.555 (CI 0.477–0.633) and κ = 0.542 (CI 0.464–0.620), respectively. There was no statistically significant difference in the amount of agreement between groups compared with Dr. Warf's reference.

CONCLUSIONS

Regardless of training with Dr. Warf, all neuroendoscopists could identify scarred cisterns and aqueduct patency with similar reliability, emphasizing the strength of the published definitions. This makes the identification of this risk factor for failure generalizable for surgical decision making and research studies.

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Michael C. Dewan, Jaims Lim, Stephen R. Gannon, David Heaner, Matthew C. Davis, Brandy Vaughn, Joshua J. Chern, Brandon G. Rocque, Paul Klimo Jr., John C. Wellons III and Robert P. Naftel

OBJECTIVE

It has been suggested that the treatment of infant hydrocephalus results in different craniometric changes depending upon whether ventriculoperitoneal shunt (VPS) placement or endoscopic third ventriculostomy with choroid plexus cauterization (ETV/CPC) is performed. Without an objective and quantitative description of expected changes to the infant cranium and ventricles following ETV/CPC, asserting successful treatment of hydrocephalus is difficult. By comparing infants successfully treated via ETV/CPC or VPS surgery, the authors of this study aimed to define the expected postoperative cranial and ventricular alterations at the time of clinical follow-up.

METHODS

Patients who underwent successful treatment of hydrocephalus at 4 institutions with either VPS placement or ETV/CPC were matched in a 3:1 ratio on the basis of age and etiology. Commonly used cranial parameters (including head circumference [HC], HC z-score, fontanelle status, and frontooccipital horn ratio [FOHR]) were compared pre- and postoperatively between treatment cohorts. First, baseline preoperative values were compared to ensure cohort equivalence. Next, postoperative metrics, including the relative change in metrics, were compared between treatment groups using multivariate linear regression.

RESULTS

Across 4 institutions, 18 ETV/CPC-treated and 54 VPS-treated infants with hydrocephalus were matched and compared at 6 months postoperatively. The most common etiologies of hydrocephalus were myelomeningocele (61%), followed by congenital communicating hydrocephalus (17%), aqueductal stenosis (11%), and intraventricular hemorrhage (6%). The mean age at the time of CSF diversion was similar between ETV/CPC- and VPS-treated patients (3.4 vs 2.9 months; p = 0.69), as were all preoperative cranial hydrocephalus metrics (p > 0.05). Postoperatively, the ventricle size FOHR decreased significantly more following VPS surgery (−0.15) than following ETV/CPC (−0.02) (p < 0.001), yielding a lower postoperative FOHR in the VPS arm (0.42 vs 0.51; p = 0.01). The HC percentile was greater in the ETV/CPC cohort than in the VPS-treated patients (76th vs 54th percentile; p = 0.046). A significant difference in the postoperative z-score was not observed. With both treatment modalities, a bulging fontanelle reliably normalized at last follow-up.

CONCLUSIONS

Clinical and radiographic parameters following successful treatment of hydrocephalus in infants differed between ETV/CPC and VPS treatment. At 6 months post-ETV/CPC, ventricle size remained unchanged, whereas VPS-treated ventricles decreased to a near-normal FOHR. The HC growth control between the procedures was similar, although the final HC percentile may be lower after VPS. The fontanelle remained a reliable indicator of success for both treatments. This study establishes expected cranial and ventricular parameters following ETV/CPC, which may be used to guide preoperative counseling and postoperative decision making.

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Andrew T. Hale, Amanda N. Stanton, Shilin Zhao, Faizal Haji, Stephen R. Gannon, Anastasia Arynchyna, John C. Wellons, Brandon G. Rocque and Robert P. Naftel

OBJECTIVE

At failure of endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) with choroid plexus cauterization (CPC), the ETV ostomy may be found to be closed or open. Failure with a closed ostomy may indicate a population that could benefit from evolving techniques to keep the ostomy open and may be candidates for repeat ETV, whereas failure with an open ostomy may be due to persistently abnormal CSF dynamics. This study seeks to identify clinical and radiographic predictors of ostomy status at the time of ETV/CPC failure.

METHODS

The authors conducted a multicenter, retrospective cohort study on all pediatric patients with hydrocephalus who failed initial ETV/CPC treatment between January 2013 and October 2016. Failure was defined as the need for repeat ETV or ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt placement. Clinical and radiographic data were collected, and ETV ostomy status was determined endoscopically at the subsequent hydrocephalus procedure. Statistical analysis included the Mann-Whitney U-test, Wilcoxon rank-sum test, t-test, and Pearson chi-square test where appropriate, as well as multivariate logistic regression.

RESULTS

Of 72 ETV/CPC failures, 28 patients (39%) had open-ostomy failure and 44 (61%) had closed-ostomy failure. Patients with open-ostomy failure were older (median 5.1 weeks corrected age for gestation [interquartile range (IQR) 0.9–15.9 weeks]) than patients with closed-ostomy failure (median 0.2 weeks [IQR −1.3 to 4.5 weeks]), a significant difference by univariate and multivariate regression. Etiologies of hydrocephalus included intraventricular hemorrhage of prematurity (32%), myelomeningocele (29%), congenital communicating (11%), aqueductal stenosis (11%), cyst/tumor (4%), and other causes (12%). A wider baseline third ventricle was associated with open-ostomy failure (median 15.0 mm [IQR 10.3–18.5 mm]) compared to closed-ostomy failure (median 11.7 mm [IQR 8.9–16.5 mm], p = 0.048). Finally, at the time of failure, patients with closed-ostomy failure had enlargement of their ventricles (frontal and occipital horn ratio [FOHR], failure vs baseline, median 0.06 [IQR 0.00–0.11]), while patients with open-ostomy failure had no change in ventricle size (median 0.01 [IQR −0.04 to 0.05], p = 0.018). Previous CSF temporizing procedures, intraoperative bleeding, and time to failure were not associated with ostomy status at ETV/CPC failure.

CONCLUSIONS

Older corrected age for gestation, larger baseline third ventricle width, and no change in FOHR were associated with open-ostomy ETV/CPC failure. Future studies are warranted to further define and confirm features that may be predictive of ostomy status at the time of ETV/CPC failure.

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Jillian M. Berkman, Jonathan Dallas, Jaims Lim, Ritwik Bhatia, Amber Gaulden, Stephen R. Gannon, Chevis N. Shannon, Adam J. Esbenshade and John C. Wellons III

OBJECTIVE

Little is understood about the role that health disparities play in the treatment and management of brain tumors in children. The purpose of this study was to determine if health disparities impact the timing of initial and follow-up care of patients, as well as overall survival.

METHODS

The authors conducted a retrospective study of pediatric patients (< 18 years of age) previously diagnosed with, and initially treated for, a primary CNS tumor between 2005 and 2012 at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. Primary outcomes included time from symptom presentation to initial neurosurgery consultation and percentage of missed follow-up visits for ancillary or core services (defined as no-show visits). Core services were defined as healthcare interactions directly involved with CNS tumor management, whereas ancillary services were appointments that might be related to overall care of the patient but not directly focused on treatment of the tumor. Statistical analysis included Pearson’s chi-square test, nonparametric univariable tests, and multivariable linear regression. Statistical significance was set a priori at p < 0.05.

RESULTS

The analysis included 198 patients. The median time from symptom onset to initial presentation was 30.0 days. A mean of 7.45% of all core visits were missed. When comparing African American and Caucasian patients, there was no significant difference in age at diagnosis, timing of initial symptoms, or tumor grade. African American patients missed significantly more core visits than Caucasian patients (p = 0.007); this became even more significant when controlling for other factors in the multivariable analysis (p < 0.001). African American patients were more likely to have public insurance, while Caucasian patients were more likely to have private insurance (p = 0.025). When evaluating survival, no health disparities were identified.

CONCLUSIONS

No significant health disparities were identified when evaluating the timing of presentation and survival. A racial disparity was noted when evaluating missed follow-up visits. Future work should focus on identifying reasons for differences and whether social determinants of health affect other aspects of treatment.

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Campbell Liles, Jonathan Dallas, Andrew T. Hale, Stephen Gannon, E. Haley Vance, Christopher M. Bonfield and Chevis N. Shannon

OBJECTIVE

Open and endoscope-assisted repair are surgical options for sagittal craniosynostosis, with limited research evaluating each technique’s immediate and long-term costs. This study investigates the cost-effectiveness of open and endoscope-assisted repair for single, sagittal suture craniosynostosis.

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective cohort study of patients undergoing single, sagittal suture craniosynostosis repair (open in 17 cases, endoscope-assisted in 16) at less than 1 year of age at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt (MCJCHV) between August 2015 and August 2017. Follow-up data were collected/analyzed for 1 year after discharge. Surgical and follow-up costs were derived by merging MCJCHV financial data with each patient’s electronic medical record (EMR) and were adjusted for inflation using the healthcare Producer Price Index. Proxy helmet costs were derived from third-party out-of-pocket helmet prices. To account for variable costs and probabilities, overall costs were calculated using TreeAge tree diagram software.

RESULTS

Open repair occurred in older patients (mean age 5.69 vs 2.96 months, p < 0.001) and required more operating room time (median 203 vs 145 minutes, p < 0.001), more ICU days (median 3 vs 1 day, p < 0.001), more hospital days (median 4 vs 1 day, p < 0.001), and more frequently required transfusion (88% vs 6% of cases). Compared to patients who underwent open surgery, patients who underwent endoscopically assisted surgery more often required postoperative orthotic helmets (100% vs 6%), had a similar number of follow-up clinic visits (median 3 vs 3 visits, p = 0.487) and CT scans (median 3 vs 2 scans), and fewer emergency department visits (median 1 vs 3 visits). The TreeAge diagram showed that, overall, open repair was 73% more expensive than endoscope-assisted repair ($31,314.10 vs $18,081.47). Sensitivity analysis identified surgical/hospital costs for open repair (mean $30,475, SEM $547) versus endoscope-assisted repair (mean $13,746, SEM $833) (p < 0.001) as the most important determinants of overall cost. Two-way sensitivity analysis comparing initial surgical/hospital costs confirmed that open repair remains significantly more expensive under even worst-case initial repair scenarios ($3254.81 minimum difference). No major surgical complications or surgical revisions occurred in either cohort.

CONCLUSIONS

The results of this study suggest that endoscope-assisted craniosynostosis repair is significantly more cost-effective than open repair, based on markedly lower costs and similar outcomes, and that the difference in initial surgical/hospital costs far outweighs the difference in subsequent costs associated with helmet therapy and outpatient management, although independent replication in a multicenter study is needed for confirmation due to practice and cost variation across institutions. Longer-term results will also be needed to examine whether cost differences are maintained.