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Susan R. Durham and Kristina Fjeld-Olenec

Object

Surgery for Chiari malformation Type I (CM-I) is one of the most common neurosurgical procedures performed in children, although there is clearly no consensus among practitioners about which surgical method is preferred. The objective of this meta-analysis was to compare the outcome of posterior fossa decompression with duraplasty (PFDD) and posterior fossa decompression without duraplasty (PFD) for the treatment of CM-I in children.

Methods

The authors searched Medline–Ovid, The Cochrane Library, and the conference proceedings of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and the Congress of Neurological Surgeons (2000–2007) for studies meeting the following inclusion criteria: 1) surgical treatment of CM-I; 2) surgical techniques of PFD and PFDD being reported in a single cohort; and 3) patient age < 18 years.

Results

Five retrospective and 2 prospective cohort studies involving a total of 582 patients met the criteria for inclusion in the meta-analysis. Of the 582 patients, 316 were treated with PFDD and 266 were treated with PFD alone. Patient age ranged from 6 months to 18 years. Patients undergoing PFDD had a significantly lower reoperation rate (2.1 vs 12.6%, risk ratio [RR] 0.23, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.08–0.69) and a higher rate of cerebrospinal fluid–related complications (18.5 vs 1.8%, RR 7.64, 95% CI 2.53–23.09) than those undergoing PFD. No significant differences in either clinical improvement (78.6 vs 64.6%, RR 1.23, 95% CI 0.95–1.59) or syringomyelia decrease (87.0 vs 56.3%, RR 1.43, 95% CI 0.91–2.25) were noted between PFDD and PFD.

Conclusions

Posterior fossa decompression with duraplasty is associated with a lower risk of reoperation than PFD but a greater risk for cerebrospinal fluid–related complications. There was no significant difference between the 2 operative techniques with respect to clinical improvement or decrease in syringomyelia.

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Susan R. Durham and Scott A. Shipman

Object

The Accreditation Council for Pediatric Neurosurgical Fellowships (ACPNF) was established in 1992 to oversee fellowship training in pediatric neurological surgery. The present study is a review of all graduates from 1992 through 2006 to identify predictors of American Board of Pediatric Neurological Surgery (ABPNS) certification.

Methods

Basic demographic information including sex, year of graduation from residency, residency training program, year of fellowship training, and fellowship program was collected on each graduate from each of the 22 ACPNF programs. Individuals who did not meet ACPNF requirements (39 trainees) and those currently practicing in Canada (11 individuals) were excluded. Univariate and multivariate analysis were used to identify predictors of ABPNS certification.

Results

Of the 193 ACPNF graduates, 143 individuals met the criteria for analysis. Currently, 70 (49%) are ABPNS certified. There is a mean period of 5.1 ± 2.4 years (range 2–13 years) between finishing fellowship and ABPNS certification. If those who are not expected to be sitting for the boards yet (2002–2006 graduates, 57 individuals) are removed, the rate of ABPNS certification is 66.3%. On average, 9.5 ±3.0 (range 4–16) fellows are trained per year. There is no statistically significant relationship between fellowship or residency training program and ABPNS certification.

Conclusions

Although the present training infrastructure has the theoretical capacity to train > 20 pediatric neurosurgeons each year, this analysis suggests that current levels will provide ~ 6 ABPNS-certified pediatric neurosurgeons annually. This raises the question of the sufficiency of the future pediatric neurosurgical workforce.

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Susan R. Durham, Jessica R. Lane and Scott A. Shipman

Object

The purpose of this study was to determine a reliable estimate of the size, demographic, and practice characteristics of the current pediatric neurosurgical workforce. The authors also sought to differentiate pediatric from nonpediatric neurosurgical practitioners and compare the demographic and practice characteristics of these 2 groups. The term “pediatric practitioner” will be used in this study to describe a practitioner whose practice is > 75% pediatric patients in accordance with the American Board of Pediatric Neurological Surgery (ABPNS) requirements for board certification in pediatric neurosurgery. Those practitioners with < 75% pediatric patients in their practice will be designated as “nonpediatric practitioners.”

Methods

The authors aggregated multiple databases of professional neurosurgical societies in an effort to identify pediatric neurosurgical practitioners. A 30-question survey was then administered to all identified practitioners, and responses were collected for 6 months. Primary analysis of pediatric versus nonpediatric practitioners was performed. Subgroup analyses of the characteristics of the pediatric practitioners were also performed to identify the effects of practitioner age, sex, and practice setting on survey responses.

Results

A total of 342 practitioners received the survey, and 267 responded (78.1% response rate); 158 pediatric practitioners and 92 nonpediatric practitioners were identified. Seventeen respondents were excluded from analysis. Pediatric practitioners were more likely to be women, ABPNS certified, have completed a pediatric fellowship, do fewer operative cases per year, have a more frequent call schedule, practice in a freestanding children's hospital, be in academic practice, and in need of recruiting additional faculty. Pediatric practitioners spent fewer hours per week in patient care, and were less likely to have a productivity-based salary or salary incentive based on relative value unit–production. Among pediatric practitioners, American Board of Neurological Surgery and ABPNS certification rates differed significantly among age groups, with older age groups being more likely to be certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery and ABPNS. The rate of pediatric fellowship completion was significantly higher in the younger age groups. Anticipating retirement by age 65 was significantly more likely in the younger age groups, and hours spent per week spent in teaching and administrative duties were lower in the younger age groups. There were 27 female and 131 male pediatric practitioners. The women were more likely to have completed a pediatric fellowship and performed fewer operative cases per year than the men. Nonacademic pediatric practitioners were more likely to have a relative value unit–based salary incentive, be reimbursed for call coverage, and spend more hours per week in patient care than academic pediatric practitioners. Academic pediatric practitioners spent more hours per week in clinical research.

Conclusions

The authors estimate that there are fewer than 200 pediatric neurosurgeons currently practicing in the United States. Current practice patterns unique to pediatrics may have important implications in recruiting and retaining the next generation of pediatric neurosurgeons.

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Susan R. Durham, Kenneth C. Liu and Nathan R. Selden

Object

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the risk of progression of traumatic intracranial lesions in children by comparing initial and subsequent computed tomography (CT) scans. Reserving repeated CT imaging for patients who harbor higher-risk lesions may reduce overall radiation exposure, the need for sedative agents, and cost.

Methods

The authors performed a retrospective cohort study in 268 patients younger than 18 years of age who underwent repeated CT scanning within 24 hours of their initial CT scanning procedure. The risk of progression between the initial and repeated CT scanning sessions and the need for delayed neurosurgical intervention were determined for each lesion type.

In 54 patients (20.1%) the normal findings on the initial CT study did not change on subsequent imaging. In 61 (28.5%) of the 214 patients in whom abnormal findings were present on the initial scan, progression was demonstrated. Patients with epidural hematoma (EDH; odds ratio [OR] 12.29), subdural hematoma (SDH; OR 3.18), cerebral edema (OR 9.34), and intraparenchymal hemorrhage (IPH; OR 18.3) were found to be at a significantly increased risk for progression and to require delayed neurosurgical intervention (OR 11.91). No significantly increased risk was found for patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH), diffuse axonal injury (DAI), or skull fracture.

Conclusions

Repeated CT imaging in children with high-risk lesions such as EDH, SDH, cerebral edema, and IPH is recommended. However, in children with low-risk lesions, such as SAH, IVH, DAI, and isolated skull fractures but no sign of clinical deterioration, repeated imaging may be less likely to alter the clinical management scheme. The limited benefits of undertaking repeated imaging in these patients should be weighed against the risks of radiation exposure, sedation, intrahospital transportation, and patient monitoring.

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Harold L. Rekate

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Susan R. Durham, Peter P. Sun and Leslie N. Sutton

Object. This outcome study was undertaken to investigate the long-term results obtained in surgically treated pediatric patients with lumbar disc disease by using standardized medical outcome scales and clinical follow-up examination.

Methods. Twenty nine patients 17 years of age or younger underwent surgery between 1968 and 1998 for lumbar disc disease. The follow-up period ranged from 4 months to 30.5 years (mean 8.5 years). Outcome scores (health profiles) were generated using a standardized medical outcome scale, the Short Form health survey questionnaire (SF-36), and a condition-specific back pain outcome scale. Clinical follow-up data were obtained by telephone interview.

The health profile of the study population closely paralleled that of the normal population and was distinctly different from the health profile of adults with low-back pain. Only physical functioning, as measured by a scale of the SF-36, was found to be impaired in a subset of the study population. The rate of reoperation was 24% over the course of the follow-up period. In contrast to similar studies in adults, there were no identifiable predictive factors for either reoperation or poor outcome.

Conclusions. Lumbar disc disease in the pediatric population does not appear to lead to chronic complaints of back pain, and it does not appear to have a negative impact on overall health. This finding suggests that pediatric lumbar disc disease may be a separate entity distinct from adult lumbar disc disease, and therefore, the same conclusions regarding long-term outcome cannot be applied to the pediatric population.

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Howard Yonas, Holly A. Smith, Susan R. Durham, Susan L. Pentheny and David W. Johnson

✓ The authors sought to determine risk for stroke in individuals with symptomatic carotid stenosis or occlusion based upon an assessment of cerebral blood flow (CBF) reserves. Vascular reserve was assessed by two consecutive xenon/computerized tomography (Xe/CT) CBF studies with intravenous acetazolamide introduced 20 minutes prior to the second study. Patients were assigned to one of two vasoreactivity groups. Group 2 included individuals who experienced a CBF reduction of more than 5% in at least one vascular territory and had a baseline flow of 45 cc/100 gm/min or less. Group 1 included all other individuals. Any territory with volume loss on CT of more than 50% was eliminated from analysis.

Sixty-eight individuals were followed at 6-month intervals for a mean of 24 months. In Group 1 two strokes were observed contralateral to the side with lowest reserve, for a stroke incidence of 4.4%; in Group 2 eight strokes were observed ipsilateral to the side with lowest reserve, for a stroke incidence of 36%. The latter group had a 12.6 times greater chance of stroke (p = 0.0007). History of stroke, history of transient ischemic attacks, baseline CBF, and degree of stenosis were not associated with an increased stroke rate. In this study, significantly compromised vascular reserves accompanied by relatively low initial flow identified individuals who subsequently demonstrated a significantly increased rate of ipsilateral stroke.

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Ann-Christine Duhaime, Susan S. Margulies, Susan R. Durham, Maureen M. O'Rourke, Jeffrey A. Golden, Sunil Marwaha and Ramesh Raghupathi

Object. The goal of this study was to investigate the relationship between maturational stage and the brain's response to mechanical trauma in a gyrencephalic model of focal brain injury. Age-dependent differences in injury response might explain certain unique clinical syndromes seen in infants and young children and would determine whether specific therapies might be particularly effective or even counterproductive at different ages.

Methods. To deliver proportionally identical injury inputs to animals of different ages, the authors have developed a piglet model of focal contusion injury by using specific volumes of rapid cortical displacement that are precisely scaled to changes in size and dimensions of the growing brain. Using this model, the histological response to a scaled focal cortical impact was compared at 7 days after injury in piglets that were 5 days, 1 month, and 4 months of age at the time of trauma. Despite comparable injury inputs and stable physiological parameters, the percentage of hemisphere injured differed significantly among ages, with the youngest animals sustaining the smallest lesions (0.8%, 8.4%, and 21.5%, for 5-day-, 1-month-, and 4-month-old animals, respectively, p = 0.0018).

Conclusions. These results demonstrate that, for this particular focal injury type and severity, vulnerability to mechanical trauma increases progressively during maturation. Because of its developmental and morphological similarity to the human brain, the piglet brain provides distinct advantages in modeling age-specific responses to mechanical trauma. Differences in pathways leading to cell death or repair may be relevant to designing therapies appropriate for patients of different ages.

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Susan R. Durham, Katelyn Donaldson, M. Sean Grady and Deborah L. Benzil

OBJECTIVE

With nearly half of graduating US medical students being female, it is imperative to understand why females typically make up less than 20% of the neurosurgery applicant pool, a number that has changed very slowly over the past several decades. Organized neurosurgery has strongly indicated the desire to overcome the underrepresentation of women, and it is critical to explore whether females are at a disadvantage during the residency application process, one of the first steps in a neurosurgical career. To date, there are no published studies on specific applicant characteristics, including gender, that are associated with match outcome among neurosurgery resident applicants. The purpose of this study is to determine which characteristics of neurosurgery residency applicants, including gender, are associated with a successful match outcome.

METHODS

De-identified neurosurgical resident applicant data obtained from the San Francisco Fellowship and Residency Matching Service for the years 1990–2007 were analyzed. Applicant characteristics including gender, medical school attended, year of application, United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) Step 1 score, Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) status, and match outcome were available for study.

RESULTS

Of the total 3426 applicants studied, 473 (13.8%) applicants were female and 2953 (86.2%) were male. Two thousand four hundred forty-eight (71.5%) applicants successfully matched. USMLE Step 1 score was the strongest predictor of match outcome with scores > 245 having an OR of 20.84 (95% CI 10.31–42.12) compared with those scoring < 215. The mean USMLE Step 1 score for applicants who successfully matched was 233.2 and was 210.8 for those applicants who did not match (p < 0.001). Medical school rank was also associated with match outcome (p < 0.001). AOA status was not significantly associated with match outcome. Female gender was associated with significantly lower odds of matching in both simple (OR 0.59, 95% CI 0.48–0.72) and multivariate analyses (OR 0.57, 95% CI 0.34–0.94 CI). USMLE Step 1 scores were significantly lower for females compared to males with a mean score of 230.1 for males and 221.5 for females (p < 0.001). There was no significant difference in medical school ranking or AOA status when stratified by applicant gender.

CONCLUSIONS

The limited historical applicant data from 1990–2007 suggests that USMLE Step 1 score is the best predictor of match outcome, although applicant gender may also play a role.

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Jo Ling Goh, David F. Bauer, Susan R. Durham and Mitchell A. Stotland

Object

The goal of this study was to review the current literature on orthotic (helmet) therapy use in the treatment of deformational plagiocephaly.

Methods

PubMed was used to search English articles using the medical subject headings “deformational plagiocephaly” and “orthosis,” and “deformational plagiocephaly” and “helmet.”

Results

Forty-two articles were found. There were no Class I studies, 7 Class II studies, 1 Class III study, and 13 Class IV studies. Cranial orthoses have been shown to be effective in treating deformational plagiocephaly. It continues to be debated as to whether the statistical significance of treatment with cranial orthoses compared with conservative therapies is clinically significant. Children older than 12 months of age with deformational plagiocephaly may still benefit from orthotic therapy. The long-term effects of orthotic therapy are controversial.

Conclusions

There is a lack of Class I literature evidence supporting the use of helmet therapy in deformational plagiocephaly. There are controversies surrounding the use of orthotic therapy such as appropriate use, cost, use in older children, and long-term outcomes. Clinical indications for orthotic therapy need to be better defined with further research studies.