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  • Author or Editor: Wesley J. Whitson x
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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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Wesley J. Whitson, Perry A. Ball, S. Scott Lollis, Jason D. Balkman and David F. Bauer

Object

Mycoplasma hominis is a rare cause of infection after neurosurgical procedures. The Mycoplasma genus contains the smallest bacteria discovered to date. Mycoplasma are atypical bacteria that lack a cell wall, a feature that complicates both diagnosis and treatment. The Gram stain and some types of culture media fail to identify these organisms, and typical broad-spectrum antibiotic regimens are ineffective because they act on cell wall metabolism. Mycoplasma hominis commonly colonizes the genitourinary tract in a nonvirulent manner, but it has caused postoperative, postpartum, and posttraumatic infections in various organ systems.

The authors present the case of a 17-year-old male with a postoperative intramedullary spinal cord abscess due to M. hominis and report the results of a literature review of M. hominis infections after neurosurgical procedures. Attention is given to time to diagnosis, risk factors for infection, ineffective antibiotic regimens, and final effective antibiotic regimens to provide pertinent information for the practicing neurosurgeon to diagnose and treat this rare occurrence.

Methods

A PubMed search was performed to identify reports of M. hominis infections after neurosurgical procedures.

Results

Eleven cases of postneurosurgical M. hominis infection were found. No other cases of intramedullary spinal cord abscess were found. Initial antibiotic coverage was inadequate in all cases, and diagnosis was delayed in all cases. Multiple surgical interventions were often needed. Once appropriate antibiotics were started, patients typically experienced rapid resolution of their neurological symptoms. In 27% of cases, a suspicious genitourinary source other than urinary catheterization was identified.

Conclusions

Postoperative M. hominis infections are rarely seen after neurosurgical procedures. They are typically responsive to appropriate antibiotic therapy. Mycoplasma infection may cause prolonged hospitalization and multiple returns to the operating room due to delay in diagnosis. Early clinical suspicion with appropriate antibiotic coverage could help prevent these significant complications.