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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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Wesley J. Whitson, Jessica R. Lane, David F. Bauer and Susan R. Durham

OBJECT

Chiari malformation Type I (CM-I) in children is a common incidental finding. Resolution of cerebellar tonsil ectopia has been reported, but no studies have followed tonsil position over regular intervals throughout childhood. To better elucidate the clinical and radiological natural history of CM-I in children, the authors prospectively followed up children with nonoperatively managed CM-I for up to 7 years.

METHODS

The study included all children evaluated for CM-I over a period of 12 years for whom surgery was not initially recommended. The study excluded patients with associated conditions, including syringomyelia and hydrocephalus. For all patients, initial management was nonoperative, and follow-up management consisted of annual cervical spine or brain MRI and clinical examination. At each follow-up examination, the neurological examination findings, subjective symptoms, and the position of the cerebellar tonsils on MR images were recorded. An alteration in tonsillar descent of 2 mm or greater was considered a change.

RESULTS

Neurological examination findings did not change over the course of the study in the 52 children who met the inclusion criteria. Although radiological changes were common, no surgeries were performed solely because of radiological change. Overall, tonsil position on radiological images remained stable in 50% of patients, was reduced in 38%, and increased in 12%. Resolution was seen in 12% of patients. Radiological changes in tonsil position were seen during every year of follow-up. On average, in any given year, 24% of images showed some form of change in tonsil position. A total of 3 patients, for whom no changes were seen on MR images, ultimately underwent surgery for subjective clinical reasons.

CONCLUSIONS

CM-I in children is not a radiologically static entity but rather is a dynamic one. Radiological changes were seen throughout the 7 years of follow-up. A reduction in tonsillar descent was substantially more common than an increase. Radiological changes did not correlate with neurological examination finding changes, symptom development, or the need for future surgery. Follow-up imaging of asymptomatic children with CM-I did not alter treatment for any patient. It would be reasonable to follow these children with clinical examinations but without regular surveillance MRI.

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Mark S. Dias, Jeffrey S. Sussman, Susan Durham and Mark R. Iantosca

Object

Research suggests that there may be a growing disparity between the supply of and demand for both pediatric specialists and neurosurgeons. Whether pediatric neurosurgeons are facing such a disparity is disputable, but interest in pediatric neurosurgery (PNS) has waxed and waned as evidenced by the number of applicants for PNS fellowships. The authors undertook a survey to analyze current neurosurgical residents' perceptions of both benefits and deterrents to a pediatric neurosurgical career.

Methods

All residents and PNS fellows in the United States and Canada during the academic year 2008–2009 were invited to complete a Web-based survey that assessed 1) demographic and educational information about residents and their residency training, particularly as it related to training in PNS; 2) residents' exposure to mentoring opportunities from pediatric neurosurgical faculty and their plans for the future; and 3) residents' perceptions about how likely 40 various factors were to influence their decision about whether to pursue a PNS career.

Results

Four hundred ninety-six responses were obtained: 89% of the respondents were male, 63% were married, 75% were in at least their 3rd year of postgraduate training, 61% trained in a children's hospital and 29% in a children's “hospital within a hospital,” and 72% were in programs having one or more dedicated PNS faculty members. The residencies of 56% of respondents offered 6–11 months of PNS training and nearly three-quarters of respondents had completed 2 months of PNS training. During medical school, 92% had been exposed to neurosurgery and 45% to PNS during a clinical rotation, but only 7% identified a PNS mentor. Nearly half (43%) are considering a PNS career, and of these, 61% are definitely or probably considering post-residency fellowship. On the other hand, 68% would prefer an enfolded fellowship during residency. Perceived strengths of PNS included working with children, developing lasting relationships, wider variety of operations, fast healing and lack of comorbidities, and altruism. Perceived significant deterrents included shunts, lower reimbursement, cross-coverage issues, higher malpractice premiums and greater legal exposure, and working with parents and pediatric health professionals. The intrinsic nature of PNS was listed as the most significant deterrent (46%) followed by financial concerns (25%), additional training (12%), longer work hours (12%), and medicolegal issues (4%). The majority felt that fellowship training and PNS certification should be recommended for surgeons treating of all but traumatic brain injuries and Chiari I malformations and performing simple shunt-related procedures, although they felt that these credentials should be required only for treating complex craniosynostosis.

Conclusions

The nature of PNS is the most significant barrier to attracting residents, although reimbursement, cross-coverage, and legal issues are also important to residents. The authors provide several recommendations that might enhance resident perceptions of PNS and attract trainees to the specialty.

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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.