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Lourdes C. Eco, Alison Brayton, William E. Whitehead and Andrew Jea

Chordomas are histologically benign tumors with local aggressive behavior. They arise from embryological remnants of the notochord at the clivus, mobile spine, and sacrum. Chordomas are rare tumors in the pediatric age group. Their surgical management is difficult, given their propensity for inaccessible anatomical regions, and proximity to critical neurovascular structures. While en bloc resection with surgical margins has been advocated as the preferred approach for chordomas, tumor characteristics and violation of adjacent anatomical boundaries may not allow for safe en bloc resection of the tumor. Here, the authors present the case of a C1 chordoma in a 5-year-old boy with epidural and prevertebral extension. The patient’s treatment consisted of a far-lateral approach for resection of the tumor and C1 arch, followed by circumferential reconstruction of the craniocervical junction with an expandable cage spanning the skull base to C2, and posterior occipitocervical spinal instrumentation. At 42 months after surgery, the patient remains neurologically intact with stable oncological status, and no evidence of craniocervical junction instrumentation failure.

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Andrew Jea, Keyne K. Johnson, William E. Whitehead and Thomas G. Luerssen

The use of spinal instrumentation to stabilize the occipitocervical junction in pediatric patients has increased and evolved in recent years. Wiring techniques have now given way to screw-rod or screw-plate techniques with or without postoperative external immobilization. Although C-2 translaminar screws have been used in these constructs, subaxial translaminar screws have not, to date, been described in either the pediatric or adult patient populations.

The authors describe the feasibility of translaminar screw placement in the C-3 lamina. Rigid fixation with translaminar screws offers an alternative to subaxial fixation with lateral mass screws, allowing for formation of biomechanically sound spinal constructs and minimizing potential neurovascular morbidity. Their use requires careful analysis of preoperative imaging studies, intact posterior elements, and avoidance of violation of the inner laminar wall.

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Sandi Lam, Thomas G. Luerssen, William E. Whitehead, Andrew Jea and I-Wen Pan

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Ashwin Viswanathan, Katherine Relyea, William E. Whitehead, Daniel J. Curry, Thomas G. Luerssen and Andrew Jea

The authors describe a rare case of pneumothorax as a complication of thoracic pedicle screw placement in an 11-year-old girl undergoing posterior segmental instrumentation for a kyphotic deformity. Spontaneous pneumothorax after posterior fusion for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis has been reported in the orthopedic literature; however, to the best of the authors' knowledge, pneumothorax directly related to pedicle screw placement for spinal deformity has not been previously described. The authors discuss the anatomical and technical aspects leading to this complication and the lessons learned from it.

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Editorial

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James M. Drake

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Robert H. Rosenwasser

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Roukoz B. Chamoun, William E. Whitehead, Daniel J. Curry, Thomas G. Luerssen and Andrew Jea

Object

The use of C-1 lateral mass screws provides an alternative to C1–2 transarticular screws in the pediatric population. However, the confined space of the local anatomy and unfamiliarity with the technique may make the placement of a C-1 lateral mass screw more challenging, especially in the juvenile or growing spine.

Methods

A CT morphometric analysis was performed in 76 pediatric atlases imaged at Texas Children's Hospital from October 1, 2007 until April 30, 2008. Critical measurements were determined for potential screw entry points, trajectories, and lengths, with the goal of replicating the operative technique described by Harms and Melcher for adult patients.

Results

The mean height and width for screw entry on the posterior surface of the lateral mass were 2.6 and 8.5 mm, respectively. The mean medially angled screw trajectory from an idealized entry point on the lateral mass was 16° (range 4 to 27°). The mean maximal screw depth from this same ideal entry point was 20.3 mm. The overhang of the posterior arch averaged 6.3 mm (range 2.1–12.4 mm). The measurement between the left- and right-side lateral masses was significantly different for the maximum medially angled screw trajectory (p = 0.003) and the maximum inferiorly directed angle (p = 0.045). Those measurements in children < 8 years of age were statistically significant for the entry point height (p = 0.038) and maximum laterally angled screw trajectory (p = 0.025) compared with older children. The differences between boys and girls were statistically significant for the minimum screw length (p = 0.04) and the anterior lateral mass height (p < 0.001).

Conclusions

A significant variation in the morphological features of C-1 exists, especially between the left and right sides and in younger children. The differences between boys and girls are clinically insignificant. The critical measurement of whether the C-1 lateral mass in a child could accommodate a 3.5-mm-diameter screw is the width of the lateral mass and its proximity to the vertebral artery. Only 1 of 152 lateral masses studied would not have been able to accommodate a lateral mass screw. This study reemphasizes the importance of a preoperative CT scan of the upper cervical spine to assure safe and effective placement of the instrumentation at this level.

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Roukoz B. Chamoun, Michel E. Mawad, William E. Whitehead, Thomas G. Luerssen and Andrew Jea

Object

Currently, no diagnostic or treatment standards exist for extracranial carotid artery dissection (CAD) in children after trauma. The purpose of this study was to review and describe the characteristics, diagnosis, and treatment of this rather uncommon sequelae of pediatric trauma.

Methods

A systematic review of the literature was performed to examine the pertinent studies of traumatic extracranial carotid artery (CA) injuries in children.

Results

No randomized trials were identified; however, 19 case reports or small case series consisting of 34 pediatric patients were found in the literature. The diagnosis of CAD was made in 33 of 34 patients only after the onset of ischemic symptomatology. Twenty-four of 34 patients underwent cerebral angiography to confirm diagnosis; MR angiography affirmed the diagnosis in 6 of 34 patients. There was little published experience with CA ultrasonography or CT angiography for diagnosis. Thirty of 34 patients were treated with medical therapy or observation; 2 of 4 patients treated with observation alone died. There was little experience with open surgical treatment of CAD in the pediatric population, and there were no studies on the endovascular treatment of traumatic CAD in children. The literature does not support anticoagulation therapy over antiplatelet therapy.

Conclusions

As a result of this review of the literature, the authors propose the algorithms for the evaluation and treatment of traumatic extracranial CADs in children. These recommendations include utilizing MR angiography as a screening tool in cases in which the clinical suspicion of CAD is high, using conventional cerebral angiography to confirm the diagnosis, implementing antiplatelet therapy as initial medical management, and reserving endovascular stenting in cases of failed medical treatment.

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Akash J. Patel, Jacob Cherian, Benjamin D. Fox, William E. Whitehead, Daniel J. Curry, Thomas G. Luerssen and Andrew Jea

Object

National and international meetings, such as the Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS) and the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) meetings, provide a central location for the gathering and dissemination of research. The purpose of this study was to determine the publication rates of both oral and poster presentations at CNS and AANS meetings in peer-reviewed journals.

Methods

The authors reviewed all accepted abstracts, presented as either oral or poster presentations, at the CNS and AANS meetings from 2003 to 2005. This information was then used to search PubMed to determine the rate of publication of the abstracts presented at the meetings. Abstracts were considered published if the data presented at the meeting was identical to that in the publication.

Results

The overall publication rate was 32.48% (1243 of 3827 abstracts). On average, 41.28% of oral presentations and 29.03% of poster presentations were eventually published. Of those studies eventually published, 98.71% were published within 5 years of presentation at the meeting. Published abstracts were published most frequently in the Journal of Neurosurgery and Neurosurgery.

Conclusions

Approximately one-third of all presentations at the annual CNS and AANS meetings will be published in peer-reviewed, MEDLINE-indexed journals. These meetings are excellent forums for neurosurgical practitioners to be exposed to current research. Oral presentations have a significantly higher rate of eventual publication compared with poster presentations, reflecting their higher quality. The Journal of Neurosurgery and Neurosurgery have been the main outlets of neurosurgical research from these meetings.