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John C. Wellons III, Richard Holubkov, Samuel R. Browd, Jay Riva-Cambrin, William Whitehead, John Kestle, Abhaya V. Kulkarni and for the Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network

Object

Previous studies from the Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network (HCRN) have shown a great degree of variation in surgical decision making for infants with posthemorrhagic hydrocephalus, such as when to temporize, when to shunt, or when to convert. Since much of this clinical decision making is dictated by clinical signs of increased intracranial pressure (including bulging fontanel and splitting of sutures), the authors investigated whether there was variability in how these signs were being assessed by neurosurgeons. They wanted to answer the following question: is there acceptable interrater reliability in the neurosurgical assessment of bulging fontanel and split sutures?

Methods

Explicit written definitions of “bulging fontanel” and “split sutures” were agreed upon with consensus across the HCRN. At 5 HCRN centers, pairs of neurosurgeons independently assessed premature infants in the first 3 months of life for the presence of a split suture and/or bulging fontanel, according to the a priori definitions. Interrater reliability was then calculated between pairs of observers using the Cohen simple kappa coefficient. Institutional board review approval was obtained at each center and at the University of Utah Data Coordinating Center.

Results

A total of 38 infants were assessed by 13 different raters (10 faculty, 2 fellows, and 1 resident). The kappa for bulging fontanel was 0.65 (95% CI 0.41–0.90), and the kappa for split sutures was 0.84 (95% CI 0.66–1.0). No complications from the study were encountered.

Conclusions

The authors have found a high degree of interrater reliability among neurosurgeons in their assessment of bulging fontanel and split sutures. While decision making may vary, the clinical assessment of this cohort appears to be consistent among these physicians, which is crucial for prospective studies moving forward.

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Tamara D. Simon, Jay Riva-Cambrin, Raj Srivastava, Susan L. Bratton, J. Michael Dean, John R. W. Kestle and for the Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network

Object

The aims of this study were to measure inpatient health care for pediatric hydrocephalus in the US; describe patient, hospital, and hospitalization characteristics for pediatric hydrocephalus inpatient care; and determine characteristics associated with death.

Methods

A cross-sectional study was performed using the 1997, 2000, and 2003 Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Kids' Inpatient Databases (KID), nationally representative weighted data sets of hospital discharges for pediatric patients. A hydrocephalus-related hospitalization was classified as either cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) shunt–related (including initial placements, infections, malfunctions, or other) or non–CSF shunt–related. Patients > 18 years of age were excluded. The KID provided weighted estimates of 6.657, 6.597, and 6.732 million total discharges in the 3 study years.

Results

Each year there were 38,200–39,900 admissions, 391,000–433,000 hospital days, and total hospital charges of $1.4–2.0 billion for pediatric hydrocephalus. Hydrocephalus accounted for 0.6% of all pediatric hospital admissions in the US in 2003, but for 1.8% of all pediatric hospital days and 3.1% of all pediatric hospital charges. Over the study years, children admitted with hydrocephalus were older, had an increase in comorbidities, and were admitted more frequently to teaching hospitals. Compared with children who survived, those who died were more likely to be < 3 months of age and have a birth-related admission, have no insurance, have comorbidities, be transferred, and have a non–CSF shunt–related admission.

Conclusions

Children with hydrocephalus have a chronic illness and use a disproportionate share of hospital days and healthcare dollars in the US. Since 1997 they have increased in age and in number of comorbid conditions. For important changes in morbidity and mortality rates to be made, focused research efforts and funding are necessary.

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Abhaya V. Kulkarni, Jay Riva-Cambrin, Richard Holubkov, Samuel R. Browd, D. Douglas Cochrane, James M. Drake, David D. Limbrick, Curtis J. Rozzelle, Tamara D. Simon, Mandeep S. Tamber, John C. Wellons III, William E. Whitehead, John R. W. Kestle and for the Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network

OBJECTIVE

Endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) is now established as a viable treatment option for a subgroup of children with hydrocephalus. Here, the authors report prospective, multicenter results from the Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network (HCRN) to provide the most accurate determination of morbidity, complication incidence, and efficacy of ETV in children and to determine if intraoperative predictors of ETV success add substantially to preoperative predictors.

METHODS

All children undergoing a first ETV (without choroid plexus cauterization) at 1 of 7 HCRN centers up to June 2013 were included in the study and followed up for a minimum of 18 months. Data, including detailed intraoperative data, were prospectively collected as part of the HCRN's Core Data Project and included details of patient characteristics, ETV failure (need for repeat hydrocephalus surgery), and, in a subset of patients, postoperative complications up to the time of discharge.

RESULTS

Three hundred thirty-six eligible children underwent initial ETV, 18.8% of whom had undergone shunt placement prior to the ETV. The median age at ETV was 6.9 years (IQR 1.7–12.6), with 15.2% of the study cohort younger than 12 months of age. The most common etiologies were aqueductal stenosis (24.8%) and midbrain or tectal lesions (21.2%). Visible forniceal injury (16.6%) was more common than previously reported, whereas severe bleeding (1.8%), thalamic contusion (1.8%), venous injury (1.5%), hypothalamic contusion (1.5%), and major arterial injury (0.3%) were rare. The most common postoperative complications were CSF leak (4.4%), hyponatremia (3.9%), and pseudomeningocele (3.9%). New neurological deficit occurred in 1.5% cases, with 0.5% being permanent.

One hundred forty-one patients had documented failure of their ETV requiring repeat hydrocephalus surgery during follow-up, 117 of them during the first 6 months postprocedure. Kaplan-Meier rates of 30-day, 90-day, 6-month, 1-year, and 2-year failure-free survival were 73.7%, 66.7%, 64.8%, 61.7%, and 57.8%, respectively. According to multivariate modeling, the preoperative ETV Success Score (ETVSS) was associated with ETV success (p < 0.001), as was the intraoperative ability to visualize a “naked” basilar artery (p = 0.023).

CONCLUSIONS

The authors' documented experience represents the most detailed account of ETV results in North America and provides the most accurate picture to date of ETV success and complications, based on contemporaneously collected prospective data. Serious complications with ETV are low. In addition to the ETVSS, visualization of a naked basilar artery is predictive of ETV success.

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John C. Wellons III, Chevis N. Shannon, Richard Holubkov, Jay Riva-Cambrin, Abhaya V. Kulkarni, David D. Limbrick Jr., William Whitehead, Samuel Browd, Curtis Rozzelle, Tamara D. Simon, Mandeep S. Tamber, W. Jerry Oakes, James Drake, Thomas G. Luerssen, John Kestle and For the Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network

OBJECTIVE

Previous Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network (HCRN) retrospective studies have shown a 15% difference in rates of conversion to permanent shunts with the use of ventriculosubgaleal shunts (VSGSs) versus ventricular reservoirs (VRs) as temporization procedures in the treatment of hydrocephalus due to high-grade intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH) of prematurity. Further research in the same study line revealed a strong influence of center-specific decision-making on shunt outcomes. The primary goal of this prospective study was to standardize decision-making across centers to determine true procedural superiority, if any, of VSGS versus VR as a temporization procedure in high-grade IVH of prematurity.

METHODS

The HCRN conducted a prospective cohort study across 6 centers with an approximate 1.5- to 3-year accrual period (depending on center) followed by 6 months of follow-up. Infants with premature birth, who weighed less than 1500 g, had Grade 3 or 4 IVH of prematurity, and had more than 72 hours of life expectancy were included in the study. Based on a priori consensus, decisions were standardized regarding the timing of initial surgical treatment, upfront shunt versus temporization procedure (VR or VSGS), and when to convert a VR or VSGS to a permanent shunt. Physical examination assessment and surgical technique were also standardized. The primary outcome was the proportion of infants who underwent conversion to a permanent shunt. The major secondary outcomes of interest included infection and other complication rates.

RESULTS

One hundred forty-five premature infants were enrolled and met criteria for analysis. Using the standardized decision rubrics, 28 infants never reached the threshold for treatment, 11 initially received permanent shunts, 4 were initially treated with endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV), and 102 underwent a temporization procedure (36 with VSGSs and 66 with VRs). The 2 temporization cohorts were similar in terms of sex, race, IVH grade, head (orbitofrontal) circumference, and ventricular size at temporization. There were statistically significant differences noted between groups in gestational age, birth weight, and bilaterality of clot burden that were controlled for in post hoc analysis. By Kaplan-Meier analysis, the 180-day rates of conversion to permanent shunts were 63.5% for VSGS and 74.0% for VR (p = 0.36, log-rank test). The infection rate for VSGS was 14% (5/36) and for VR was 17% (11/66; p = 0.71). The overall compliance rate with the standardized decision rubrics was noted to be 90% for all surgeons.

CONCLUSIONS

A standardized protocol was instituted across all centers of the HCRN. Compliance was high. Choice of temporization techniques in premature infants with IVH does not appear to influence rates of conversion to permanent ventricular CSF diversion. Once management decisions and surgical techniques are standardized across HCRN sites, thus minimizing center effect, the observed difference in conversion rates between VSGSs and VRs is mitigated.

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Abhaya V. Kulkarni, Jay Riva-Cambrin, Jerry Butler, Samuel R. Browd, James M. Drake, Richard Holubkov, John R. W. Kestle, David D. Limbrick, Tamara D. Simon, Mandeep S. Tamber, John C. Wellons III, William E. Whitehead and for the Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network

Object

The Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network (HCRN), which comprises 7 pediatric neurosurgical centers in North America, provides a unique multicenter assessment of the current outcomes of CSF shunting in nonselected patients. The authors present the initial results for this cohort and compare them with results from prospective multicenter trials performed in the 1990s.

Methods

Analysis was restricted to patients with newly diagnosed hydrocephalus undergoing shunting for the first time. Detailed perioperative data from 2008 through 2012 for all HCRN centers were prospectively collected and centrally stored by trained research coordinators. Historical control data were obtained from the Shunt Design Trial (1993–1995) and the Endoscopic Shunt Insertion Trial (1996–1999). The primary outcome was time to first shunt failure, which was determined by using Cox regression survival analysis.

Results

Mean age of the 1184 patients in the HCRN cohort was older than mean age of the 720 patients in the historical cohort (2.51 years vs 1.60 years, p < 0.0001). The distribution of etiologies differed (p < 0.0001, chi-square test); more tumors and fewer myelomeningoceles caused the hydrocephalus in the HCRN cohort patients. The hazard ratio for first shunt failure significantly favored the HCRN cohort, even after the model was adjusted for the prognostic effects of age and etiology (adjusted HR 0.82, 95% CI 0.69–0.96).

Conclusions

Current outcomes of shunting in general pediatric neurosurgery practice have improved over those from the 1990s, although the reasons remain unclear.

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John C. Wellons III, Chevis N. Shannon, Abhaya V. Kulkarni, Tamara D. Simon, Jay Riva-Cambrin, William E. Whitehead, W. Jerry Oakes, James M. Drake, Thomas G. Luerssen, Marion L. Walker, John R. W. Kestle and for the Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network

Object

The purpose of this study was to define the incidence of permanent shunt placement and infection in patients who have undergone the 2 most commonly performed temporizing procedures for posthemorrhagic hydrocephalus (PHH) of prematurity: ventriculosubgaleal (VSG) shunt placement and ventricular reservoir placement for intermittent tapping.

Methods

The 4 centers of the Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network participated in a retrospective chart review of infants with PHH who underwent treatment at each institution between 2001 and 2006. Patients were included if they had received a diagnosis of Grade 3 or 4 intraventricular hemorrhage, weighed < 1500 g at birth, and had received surgical intervention. The authors determined the incidence of conversion from a temporizing device to a permanent shunt, the incidence of CSF infection during temporization, and the 6-month CSF infection rate after permanent shunt placement.

Results

Thirty-one (86%) of 36 patients who received VSG shunts and 61 (69%) of 88 patients who received ventricular reservoirs received permanent CSF diversion with a shunt (p = 0.05). Five patients (14%) in the VSG shunt group had CSF infections during temporization, compared with 11 patients (13%) in the ventricular reservoir group (p = 0.83). The 6-month incidence of permanent shunt infection in the VSG shunt group was 16% (5 of 31), compared with 12% (7 of 61) in the reservoir placement group (p = 0.65). For the first 6 months after permanent shunt placement, infants with no preceding temporizing procedure had an infection rate of 5% (1 of 20 infants) and those who had undergone a temporizing procedure had an infection rate of 13% (12 of 92; p = 0.45).

Conclusions

The use of intermittent tapping of ventricular reservoirs in this population appears to lead to a lower incidence of permanent shunt placement than the use of VSG shunts. The incidence of infection during temporization and for the initial 6 months after conversion appears comparable for both groups. The apparent difference identified in this pilot study requires confirmation in a more rigorous study.

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Jay Riva-Cambrin, John R. W. Kestle, Curtis J. Rozzelle, Robert P. Naftel, Jessica S. Alvey, Ron W. Reeder, Richard Holubkov, Samuel R. Browd, D. Douglas Cochrane, David D. Limbrick Jr., Chevis N. Shannon, Tamara D. Simon, Mandeep S. Tamber, John C. Wellons III, William E. Whitehead, Abhaya V. Kulkarni and for the Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network

OBJECTIVE

Endoscopic third ventriculostomy combined with choroid plexus cauterization (ETV+CPC) has been adopted by many pediatric neurosurgeons as an alternative to placing shunts in infants with hydrocephalus. However, reported success rates have been highly variable, which may be secondary to patient selection, operative technique, and/or surgeon training. The objective of this prospective multicenter cohort study was to identify independent patient selection, operative technique, or surgical training predictors of ETV+CPC success in infants.

METHODS

This was a prospective cohort study nested within the Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network’s (HCRN) Core Data Project (registry). All infants under the age of 2 years who underwent a first ETV+CPC between June 2006 and March 2015 from 8 HCRN centers were included. Each patient had a minimum of 6 months of follow-up unless censored by an ETV+CPC failure. Patient and operative risk factors of failure were examined, as well as formal ETV+CPC training, which was defined as traveling to and working with the experienced surgeons at CURE Children’s Hospital of Uganda. ETV+CPC failure was defined as the need for repeat ETV, shunting, or death.

RESULTS

The study contained 191 patients with a primary ETV+CPC conducted by 17 pediatric neurosurgeons within the HCRN. Infants under 6 months corrected age at the time of ETV+CPC represented 79% of the cohort. Myelomeningocele (26%), intraventricular hemorrhage associated with prematurity (24%), and aqueductal stenosis (17%) were the most common etiologies. A total of 115 (60%) of the ETV+CPCs were conducted by surgeons after formal training. Overall, ETV+CPC was successful in 48%, 46%, and 45% of infants at 6 months, 1 year, and 18 months, respectively. Young age (< 1 month) (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR] 1.9, 95% CI 1.0–3.6) and an etiology of post–intraventricular hemorrhage secondary to prematurity (aHR 2.0, 95% CI 1.1–3.6) were the only two independent predictors of ETV+CPC failure. Specific subgroups of ages within etiology categories were identified as having higher ETV+CPC success rates. Although training led to more frequent use of the flexible scope (p < 0.001) and higher rates of complete (> 90%) CPC (p < 0.001), training itself was not independently associated (aHR 1.1, 95% CI 0.7–1.8; p = 0.63) with ETV+CPC success.

CONCLUSIONS

This is the largest prospective multicenter North American study to date examining ETV+CPC. Formal ETV+CPC training was not found to be associated with improved procedure outcomes. Specific subgroups of ages within specific hydrocephalus etiologies were identified that may preferentially benefit from ETV+CPC.