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William C. Gump, Ian S. Mutchnick and Thomas M. Moriarty

Molding helmet therapy is a widely accepted treatment for positional plagiocephaly that is generally considered to be low risk. Multiple large outcome studies have shown good results, but adverse events are rarely reported. The literature on helmet therapy was reviewed to clarify the clinical experience with associated complications. Although significant complications were extremely rare, there was a large degree of variability in detection of lesser problems such as minor skin irritation. Patients with a primarily brachycephalic morphology may be at higher risk for poorly fitting orthoses. Most reported complications are minor and self-limited. Maintenance of good helmet hygiene appears to be the most effective strategy for reducing or eliminating complications.

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William C. Gump, Ian S. Mutchnick and Thomas M. Moriarty

Children with spastic diplegia from cerebral palsy (CP) experience measurable improvement in their spasticity and motor function following selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR). The role of this operation in the treatment of other spasticity causes is less well defined. A literature review was undertaken to survey outcomes from SDRs performed outside the CP population. Multiple sclerosis was the most common diagnosis found, accounting for 74 of 145 patients described. Selective dorsal rhizotomies have also been reported in patients with traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries, ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke, neurodegenerative disease, hypoxic encephalopathy, and other causes of spasticity. Outcomes from surgery are generally described as favorable, although postoperative assessments and follow-up times are not standardized across reports. Long-term outcomes are sparsely reported. Larger numbers of patients and more detailed outcomes data have the potential to form a basis for expanding the inclusion criteria for SDR.

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Ian S. Mutchnick, Rashid M. Janjua, Karen Moeller and Thomas M. Moriarty


The optimal surgical management of Chiari malformation (CM) is evolving. Evidence continues to accrue that supports decompression without duraplasty as an effective treatment to achieve symptomatic relief and anatomical decompression. The risks and benefits of this less invasive operation need to be weighed against decompression with duraplasty.


The authors performed a retrospective review of all CM decompressions from 2003 to 2007. All operations were performed by a single surgeon at a single institution. Data were analyzed for outcome, postoperative morbidity, and recurrence.


Of 121 unique patients, 56 underwent posterior fossa decompressions without duraplasty (PFD) and 64 patients underwent posterior fossa decompressions with duraplasty (PFDD). Of the 56 PFD patients, 7 (12.5%) needed a subsequent PFDD for symptomatic recurrence. Of the 64 patients who underwent a PFDD, 2 (3.1%) needed a repeated PFDD for symptomatic recurrence. Patients treated with PFDD had an average operative time of 201 minutes in contrast to 127 minutes for those who underwent PFD (p = 0.0001). Patients treated with PFDD had average hospital stays of 4.0 days, whereas that for patients treated with PFD was 2.7 days (p = 0.0001). While in the hospital, patients treated with PFDD used low-grade narcotics, intravenous narcotics, muscle relaxants, and antiemetic medications at statistically significant differing rates.


While PFD was associated with a higher rate of recurrent symptoms requiring repeated decompression, this may be justified by the significantly lower morbidity rate. Clearer delineation of the trade-off between morbidity and recurrence may be used to help patients and their families make decisions regarding care.

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Meena Thatikunta, Ian Mutchnick, Jennifer Elster, Matthew P. Thompson, Michael A. Huang, Aaron C. Spalding and Thomas Moriarty

Atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumors (ATRTs) are a rare pediatric brain tumor with high mortality rate. Several large series have reported achieving gross-total resection (GTR) in less than 50% of patients due to the lesions' large size, vascularity, and limited blood volume in young patients. While neoadjuvant chemotherapy for choroid plexus carcinomas in pediatric patients has become widely accepted, it has not been used as widely for other pediatric brain tumors. To the best of the authors' knowledge, there are only 3 published cases of neoadjuvant chemotherapy for ATRTs. In the present report, the authors present a fourth case of neoadjuvant chemotherapy for ATRT and review the available literature on this strategy. A 17-month-old child presented with a left ventricular ATRT for which imaging raised concern for a highly vascularized tumor. The authors undertook neoadjuvant chemotherapy with 2 cycles of Head Start II therapy, which reduced the size of the ventricular tumor by 35% and decreased the vascularity of the lesion on imaging. The estimated blood loss during resection was 425 ml and GTR was achieved. The patient continued with postoperative chemotherapy but suffered an on-therapy recurrence. While higher-quality data are necessary, available evidence suggests that neoadjuvant chemotherapy can reduce the size and vascularity of ATRTs and facilitate a surgical avenue for large or “inoperable” tumors.

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Ian Mutchnick, Meena Thatikunta, Julianne Braun, Martha Bohn, Barbara Polivka, Michael W. Daniels, Rachel Vickers-Smith, William Gump and Thomas Moriarty


Perioperative hypothermia (PH) is a preventable, pathological, and iatrogenic state that has been shown to result in increased surgical blood loss, increased surgical site infections, increased hospital length of stay, and patient discomfort. Maintenance of normothermia is recommended by multiple surgical quality organizations; however, no group yet provides an ergonomic, evidence-based protocol to reduce PH for pediatric neurosurgery patients. The authors’ aim was to evaluate the efficacy of a PH prevention protocol in the pediatric neurosurgery population.


A prospective, nonrandomized study of 120 pediatric neurosurgery patients was performed. Thirty-eight patients received targeted warming interventions throughout their perioperative phases of care (warming group—WG). The remaining 82 patients received no extra warming care during their perioperative period (control group—CG). Patients were well matched for age, sex, and preparation time intraoperatively. Hypothermia was defined as < 36°C. The primary outcome of the study was maintenance of normothermia preoperatively, intraoperatively, and postoperatively.


WG patients were significantly warmer on arrival to the operating room (OR) and were 60% less likely to develop PH (p < 0.001). Preoperative forced air warmer use both reduced the risk of PH at time 0 intraoperatively and significantly reduced the risk of any PH intraoperatively (p < 0.001). All patients, regardless of group, experienced a drop in core temperature until a nadir occurred at 30 minutes intraoperatively for the WG and 45 minutes for the CG. At every time interval, from preoperatively to 120 minutes intraoperatively, CG patients were between 2 and 3 times more likely to experience PH (p < 0.001). All patients were warm on arrival to the postanesthesia care unit regardless of patient group.


Preoperative forced air warmer use significantly increases the average intraoperative time 0 temperature, helping to prevent a fall into PH at the intraoperative nadir. Intraoperatively, a strictly and consistently applied warming protocol made intraoperative hypothermia significantly less likely as well as less severe when it did occur. Implementation of a warming protocol necessitated only limited resources and an OR culture change, and was well tolerated by OR staff.