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Roger J. Hudgins, Fernando D. Burstein and William R. Boydston

✓ Premature closure of the sagittal suture is the most common form of craniosynostosis, but this condition occasionally goes unrecognized until the child is too old to undergo procedures that depend upon continued calvarial growth for success. As the entire calvaria is affected and thus misshapen by sagittal synostosis, late correction involves total calvarial reconstruction. The extensive nature of this undertaking has precluded its utilization despite the presence of significant deformities. Adapting the techniques and experience gained from craniofacial surgery, the authors performed total calvarial reconstruction on nine children with sagittal synostosis and subsequent scaphocephaly diagnosed after the age of 1 year. In each case the goals of shortening the anteroposterior length, widening the biparietal diameter, and reducing frontal and occipital deformities were met. Morbidity consisted of acute blood loss, postoperative hyponatremia, and in one case a residual skull defect. The rationale for this procedure and the techniques utilized are discussed.

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A. Leland Albright, Yasser Awaad, Michael Muhonen, William R. Boydston, Richard Gilmartin, Linda E. Krach, Michael Turner, Kathryn A. Zidek, Ed Wright, Dale Swift and Karen Bloom

Object. The objectives of this multicenter study were to monitor the performance of a 10-ml pump infusing intrathecal baclofen to treat 100 children with cerebral spasticity, to monitor complications associated with the pump, and to correlate pump-related complications with body habitus.

Methods. Age at implantation of the pump ranged from 1.4 to 16.8 years (mean 8.1 years). The effects of ITB on spasticity in the upper and lower extremities were evaluated using the Ashworth Scale. Data were collected regarding implant site, infection, complication, and body mass index (BMI). Ashworth Scale scores decreased significantly in the upper and lower extremities at 6 and 12 months after pump implantation (p < 0.001). There were four serious system-related complications, all specific to catheters. There were 32 serious procedure-related complications in 21 patients: 11 complications were infections that occurred in nine patients. Four of nine pump-induced infections were treated with pump removal and antibiotic therapy; five infections were treated successfully with antibiotic therapy alone, without pump removal. In children younger than 8 years of age there was a significantly higher incidence of serious procedure-related adverse events than in older children. There was no significant correlation between BMI and the incidence of pump pocket—related complications or infections.

Conclusions. The 10-ml pump can be used therapeutically in small children, particularly those weighing less than 40 lbs, with greater ease and less wound tension, than the conventional 18-ml pump. The incidence of complications associated with the 10-ml pump in younger children appears to be similar to that previously reported with the 18-ml pump in larger-sized children.

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Joshua J. Chern, Samir Sarda, Brian M. Howard, Andrew Jea, R. Shane Tubbs, Barunashish Brahma, David M. Wrubel, Andrew Reisner and William Boydston

Object

Nonoperative blunt head trauma is a common reason for admission in a pediatric hospital. Adverse events, such as growing skull fracture, are rare, and the incidence of such morbidity is not known. As a result, optimal follow-up care is not clear.

Methods

Patients admitted after minor blunt head trauma between May 1, 2009, and April 30, 2013, were identified at a single institution. Demographic, socioeconomic, and clinical characteristics were retrieved from administrative and outpatient databases. Clinical events within the 180-day period following discharge were reviewed and analyzed. These events included emergency department (ED) visits, need for surgical procedures, clinic visits, and surveillance imaging utilization. Associations among these clinical events and potential contributing factors were analyzed using appropriate statistical methods.

Results

There were 937 admissions for minor blunt head trauma in the 4-year period. Patients who required surgical interventions during the index admission were excluded. The average age of the admitted patients was 5.53 years, and the average length of stay was 1.7 days; 15.7% of patients were admitted for concussion symptoms with negative imaging findings, and 26.4% of patients suffered a skull fracture without intracranial injury. Patients presented with subdural, subarachnoid, or intraventricular hemorrhage in 11.6%, 9.19%, and 0.53% of cases, respectively. After discharge, 672 patients returned for at least 1 follow-up clinic visit (71.7%), and surveillance imaging was obtained at the time of the visit in 343 instances.

The number of adverse events was small and consisted of 34 ED visits and 3 surgeries. Some of the ED visits could have been prevented with better discharge instructions, but none of the surgery was preventable. Furthermore, the pattern of postinjury surveillance imaging utilization correlated with physician identity but not with injury severity. Because the number of adverse events was small, surveillance imaging could not be shown to positively influence outcomes.

Conclusions

Adverse events after nonoperative mild traumatic injury are rare. The routine use of postinjury surveillance imaging remains controversial, but these data suggest that such imaging does not effectively identify those who require operative intervention.

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David M. Wrubel, Kelsie J. Riemenschneider, Corinne Braender, Brandon A. Miller, Daniel A. Hirsh, Andrew Reisner, William Boydston, Barunashish Brahma and Joshua J. Chern

Object

Quality assessment measures have not been well developed for pediatric neurosurgical patients. This report documents the authors' experience in extracting information from an administrative database to establish the rate of return to system within 30 days of pediatric neurosurgical procedures.

Methods

Demographic, socioeconomic, and clinical characteristics were prospectively collected in administrative, business, and operating room databases. The primary end point was an unexpected return to the hospital system within 30 days from the date of a pediatric neurosurgical procedure. Statistical methods were used to identify clinical and demographic factors associated with the primary end point.

Results

There were 1358 pediatric neurosurgical procedures performed in the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta operating rooms in 2012, with 37.4% of these surgeries being preceded by admissions through the emergency department. Medicare or Medicaid was the payor for 54.9% of surgeries, and 37.6% of surgeries were shunt related. There were 148 unexpected returns to the system within 30 days after surgery, and in 109 of these cases, the patient had a presenting complaint that was attributable to the index surgery (related returns). The most common complaints were headache, nausea, vomiting, or seizure after shunt revision or cranial procedures (n = 62). The next most common reason for re-presentation was for wound concerns (n = 30). Thirty-seven of the 109 related returns resulted in a reoperation. The monthly rate of related returns was 8.1% ± 2.5% over the 12-month study period. When using related returns as the dependent variable, the authors found that patients who underwent a shunt-related surgery were both more likely to unexpectedly return to the system (OR 1.86, p = 0.008) and to require surgery upon readmission (OR 3.28, p = 0.004). Because an extended hospitalization shortened the window of time for readmission after surgery, extended length of stay was protective against return to system within 30 days of surgery. Importantly, if related and unrelated returns were analyzed together as the dependent variable (n = 148), no independent clinical and demographic risk factor could be identified.

Conclusions

Quality assessment measures need to be clearly and carefully defined, as the definition itself will impact the analytical results. Clinicians must play a leading role in the development of these measures to ensure their clinical meaningfulness.

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Peter W. Carmel, A. Leland Albright, P. David Adelson, Alexa Canady, Peter Black, William Boydston, David Kneirim, Bruce Kaufman, Marion Walker, Mark Luciano, Ian F. Pollack, Kim Manwaring, M. Peter Heilbrun, I. Richmond Abbott and Harold Rekate

Shunt systems with differential pressure valves are prone to the complications of overdrainage. A programmable valve permits adjustment of the opening pressure of the valve. In this paper the authors report the incidence of subdural fluid collections in a randomized trial of programmable compared with conventional valves, and they describe methodologies used in management of this complication.

A multiinstitutional, prospective, randomized trial of the Codman Hakim programmable valve and conventional fixed-pressure valves was undertaken. Two classes were defined: “new” and “replacement” valves. Randomization of the type of valve in each group was performed at each study site. Clinical and radiological studies were required at fixed intervals over a 104-week period. All complications were reported. The experimental valves were required to be reprogrammed after magnetic resonance imaging studies, but all other decisions regarding pressure setting were left to each investigator.

Three hundred seventy-seven patients were randomized; 194 were treated with a programmable valve and 183 with a fixed-pressure valve. The two groups were statistically similar in demographic composition, as were the “new” and “replacement” categories. The investigators made 540 valve pressure changes (five per patient; range one-41 changes). More than half of the reprogramming adjustments were made in the first 3 months postplacement; 70% were made within 6 months. More than half of all reprogramming adjustments were required in a group of 30 patients.

Four treatment modalities were observed: 1) 30% of the fluid collections resolved spontaneously (25% in the patients with programmable valves and 36.3% in those with conventional valves) and were largely found to be hygromas in infants and children; 2) four subdural fluid collections were unresolved and under observation; 3) the subdural hematoma was drained and the shunt removed (in 8.3% of patients with the programmable valve and 36.3% of those with the control valve); 4) the pressure of programmable valve was raised in 58% of patients (seven of 12), and this increase in opening pressure was a feature used by investigators to affect treatment.

There was no significant difference in the incidence of subdural fluid collections between the programmable and fixed-pressure valve treatment groups. The programmable feature provided a considerable advantage in treatment when subdural collections occurred.