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Daily bibliographic review of the Neurosurgery Department. La Fe University Hospital. Valencia, Spain

Patterns of C-2 fracture in the elderly: comparison of etiology, treatment, and mortality among speci c fracture types

J Neurosurg Spine 27:494–500, 2017

Previous studies have focused on Type II odontoid fractures and have failed to report on the effect of other C-2 fracture types on treatment and outcome. The purpose of this study was to compare patient characteristics, cause of injury, predisposing factors to fracture, treatments, and mortality rates among C-2 fracture types in a cohort of elderly patients 70 years of age and older.

METHODS A retrospective cohort study design was used. Patients who sustained a C-2 fracture between 2002 and 2011 and who were admitted to the authors’ Level 1 trauma center were identified using the Discharge Abstract Database and the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-10) code S12.1. Fractures were classified as odontoid Type I, II, or III; hangman’s; C-2 complex (hangman’s appearance on sagittal images, Type III odontoid on coronal cuts); and other (miscellaneous). Age, sex, predisposing factors to falls, cause of injury, treatment, presence of autofusion in the subaxial cervical spine, and mortality rates were compared between fracture patterns.

RESULTS One hundred forty-one patients were included; their mean age was 82 years. Fractures included Type II odontoid (57%), complex (19%), Type III odontoid (11%), hangman’s (8%), and other (5%). Falls from a standing height accounted for 47% of injuries, and 65% of patients had ≥ 3 risk factors for falls. Subaxial autofusion was more common in odontoid fractures (p = 0.002). Treatment was mainly nonoperative (p < 0.0001). The 1-year mortality rate was 27%. Four patients died of spinal cord injury.

CONCLUSIONS Although not as common as Type II odontoid fractures, other C-2 fractures including hangman’s, complex, and Type III odontoid fractures accounted for close to half of the injuries in the study cohort. There were few differences between the fracture types with respect to cause of injury, predisposing factors, or mortality rate. However, surgical treatment was more common for Type II odontoid fractures.

Predictive factors for recurrence and clinical outcomes in patients with chronic subdural hematoma

J Neurosurg 127:1117–1125, 2017

Chronic subdural hematoma (CSDH) is a common type of intracranial hemorrhage in elderly patients. Many studies have suggested various factors that may be associated with the recurrence of CSDH. However, the results are inconsistent. The purpose of this study was to determine the associations among patient factors, recurrence, and clinical outcomes of CSDH after burr hole surgery performed during an 11-year period at twin hospitals.

METHODS Kaplan-Meier analysis was performed to evaluate the risk factors for CSDH recurrence. Univariate and multivariate Cox proportional hazards regression analyses were used to calculate hazard ratios with 95% CIs for CSDH recurrence based on many variables. One-way repeated-measures ANOVA was used to assess the differences in the mean modified Rankin Scale score between categories for each risk factor during each admission and at the last follow-up.

RESULTS This study was a retrospective analysis of 756 consecutive patients with CSDH who underwent burr hole surgery at the Hanyang University Medical Center (Seoul and Guri) between January 1, 2004, and December 31, 2014. During the 6-month follow-up, 104 patients (13.8%) with recurrence after surgery for CSDH were identified. Independent risk factors for recurrence were as follows: age > 75 years (HR 1.72, 95% CI 1.03–2.88; p = 0.039), obesity (body mass index ≥ 25.0 kg/m2), and a bilateral operation.

CONCLUSIONS This study determined the risk factors for recurrence of CSDH and their effects on outcomes. Further studies are needed to account for these observations and to determine their underlying mechanisms.

Open versus percutaneous instrumentation in thoracolumbar fractures

J Neurosurg Spine 27:235–241, 2017

Percutaneous instrumentation in thoracolumbar fractures is intended to decrease paravertebral muscle damage by avoiding dissection. The aim of this study was to compare muscles at instrumented levels in patients who were treated by open or percutaneous surgery.

METHODS Twenty-seven patients underwent open instrumentation, and 65 were treated percutaneously. A standardized MRI protocol using axial T1-weighted sequences was performed at a minimum 1-year follow-up after implant removal. Two independent observers measured cross-sectional areas (CSAs, in cm2) and region of interest (ROI) signal intensity (in pixels) of paravertebral muscles by using OsiriX at the fracture level, and at cranial and caudal instrumented pedicle levels. An interobserver comparison was made using the Bland-Altman method. Reference ROI muscle was assessed in the psoas and ROI fat subcutaneously. The ratio ROI-CSA/ROI-fat was compared for patients treated with open versus percutaneous procedures by using a linear mixed model. A linear regression analyzed additional factors: age, sex, body mass index (BMI), Pfirrmann grade of adjacent discs, and duration of instrumentation in situ.

RESULTS The interobserver agreement was good for all CSAs. The average CSA for the entire spine was 15.7 cm2 in the open surgery group and 18.5 cm2 in the percutaneous group (p = 0.0234). The average ROI-fat and ROI-muscle signal intensities were comparable: 497.1 versus 483.9 pixels for ROI-fat and 120.4 versus 111.7 pixels for ROI-muscle in open versus percutaneous groups. The ROI-CSA varied between 154 and 226 for open, and between 154 and 195 for percutaneous procedures, depending on instrumented levels. A significant difference of the ROI-CSA/ROI-fat ratio (0.4 vs 0.3) was present at fracture levels T12–L1 (p = 0.0329) and at adjacent cranial (p = 0.0139) and caudal (p = 0.0100) instrumented levels. Differences were not significant at thoracic levels. When adjusting based on age, BMI, and Pfirrmann grade, a significant difference between open and percutaneous procedures regarding the ROI-CSA/ROI-fat ratio was present in the lumbar spine (p < 0.01). Sex and duration of instrumentation had no significant influence.

CONCLUSIONS Percutaneous instrumentation decreased muscle atrophy compared with open surgery. The MRI signal differences for T-12 and L-1 fractures indicated less fat infiltration within CSAs in patients who received percutaneous treatment. Differences were not evidenced at thoracic levels, where CSAs were smaller. Fat infiltration was not significantly different at lumbar levels with either procedure in elderly patients with associated discopathy and higher BMI. In younger patients, there was less fat infiltration of lumbar paravertebral muscles with percutaneous procedures.

 

Spinal epidural hematomas: personal experience and literature review of more than 1000 cases

J Neurosurg Spine 27:198–208, 2017

The goal of this study was to identify factors that contribute to the formation of acute spinal epidural hematoma (SEH) by correlating etiology, age, site, clinical status, and treatment with immediate results and long-term outcomes.

METHODS The authors reviewed their series of 15 patients who had been treated for SEH between 1996 and 2012. In addition, the authors reviewed the relevant international literature from 1869 (when SEH was first described) to 2012, collecting a total of 1010 cases. Statistical analysis was performed in 959 (95%) cases that were considered valid for assessing the incidence of age, sex, site, and clinical status at admission, correlating each of these parameters with the treatment results. Statistical analysis was also performed in 720 (71.3%) cases to study the incidence of etiological factors that favor SEH formation: coagulopathy, trauma, spinal puncture, pregnancy, and multifactorial disorders. The clinical status at admission and long-term outcome were studied for each group. Clinical status was assessed using the Neuro-Grade (NG) scale.

RESULTS The mean patient age was 47.97 years (range 0–91 years), and a significant proportion of patients were male (60%, p < 0.001). A bimodal distribution has been reported for age at onset with peaks in the 2nd and 6th decades of life. The cause of the SEH was not reported in 42% of cases. The etiology concerned mainly iatrogenic factors (18%), such as coagulopathy or spinal puncture, rather than noniatrogenic factors (29%), such as genetic or metabolic coagulopathy, trauma, and pregnancy. The etiology was multifactorial in 11.1% of cases. The most common sites for SEH were C-6 (n = 293, 31%) and T-12 (n = 208, 22%), with maximum extension of 6 vertebral bodies in 720 cases (75%). At admission, 806 (84%) cases had moderate neurological impairment (NG 2 or 3), and only lumbar hematoma was associated with a good initial clinical neurological status (NG 0 or 1). Surgery was performed in 767 (80%) cases. Mortality was greater in patients older than 40 years of age (9%; p < 0.01). Sex did not influence any of these data (p > 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS Factors that contribute to the formation of acute SEH are iatrogenic, not iatrogenic, or multifactorial. The treatment of choice is surgery, and the results of treatment are influenced by the patient’s clinical and neurological status at admission, age, and the craniocaudal site.

Morbidity and Mortality Associated with Surgery of Traumatic C2 Fractures in Octogenarians

Neurosurgery 80:854–862, 2017

Management of axis fractures in the elderly remains controversial. As the US population increasingly lives past 80 years, published C2 fracture morbidity/mortality profiles in younger cohorts (55+) have become less applicable to octogenarians.

OBJECTIVE: To report associations between surgery and mortality, hospital length of stay and discharge disposition in octogenarians with traumatic C2 fractures.

METHODS: Retrospective cohort study of 3847 patients age ≥ 80 years representing 17 702 incidents nationwide, divided into surgery/nonsurgery cohorts, using the National Sample Program of the National Trauma Data Bank from 2003 to 2012. Inpatient complications, mortality, length of stay, and discharge disposition are characterized; multivariable regression was utilized to determine associations between surgery and outcomes. Institutional Review Board (IRB): The National Sample Program dataset from the National Trauma Data Bank is fully deidentified and does not contain Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act identifiers; therefore, this study is exempt from IRB review at the University of California, San Francisco.

RESULTS: Incidence of surgery was 10.3%. Surgery was associated with increased pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and decubitus ulcer risks (P < .001). Inpatient mortality was 12.8% (nonsurgery—13.0%; surgery—10.3%; P = .120). Length of stay was 8.31±9.32 days (nonsurgery 7.78±9.21; surgery 12.86±9.07; P<.001) and showed an adjusted mean increase of 5.68 days with surgery (95% confidence interval [4.74-6.61]). Of patients surviving to discharge, 26% returned home (nonsurgery—26.8%; surgery— 18.8%; P=.001); surgery patientswere less likely to returnhome(odds ratio 0.59 [0.44-0.78]).

CONCLUSION: The present study confirms that surgery of traumatic C2 fractures in octogenarians does not significantly affect inpatient mortality and increases discharge to institutionalized care. Patients undergoing surgery are more likely to require longer hospitalization and suffer increased medical complications during their stay. Given the retrospective nature of this study, it is unclear whether these conclusions reflect differences in injury severity between surgery cohorts. This question may be considered in a future prospective study.

Hematoma growth after unilateral drainage of bilateral CSDH

J Neurosurg 126:755–759, 2017

Chronic subdural hematoma (CSDH) is a common form of intracranial hemorrhage with a recurrence rate of 9.2%–26.5% after bur hole surgery. Occasionally patients with bilateral CSDH undergo unilateral surgery because the contralateral hematoma is deemed to be asymptomatic, and in some of these patients the contralateral hematoma may subsequently enlarge, requiring additional surgery. The authors investigated the factors related to the growth of these hematomas.

METHODS Ninety-three patients with bilateral CSDH who underwent unilateral bur hole surgery at Aizu Chuo Hospital were included in a retrospective analysis. Findings on preoperative MRI, preoperative thickness of the drained hema-toma, and the influence of antiplatelet or anticoagulant drugs were considered and evaluated in univariate and multivari-ate analyses.

RESULTS The overall growth rate was 19% (18 of 93 hematomas), and a significantly greater percentage of the hematomas that were iso- or hypointense on preoperative T1-weighted imaging showed growth compared with other hematomas (35.4% vs 2.3%, p < 0.001). Multivariate logistic regression analysis showed that findings on preoperative T1-weighted MRI were the sole significant predictor of hematoma growth, and other factors such as antiplatelet or anti-coagulant drug use, patient age, patient sex, thickness of the treated hematoma, and T2-weighted MRI findings were not significantly related to hematoma growth. The adjusted odds ratio for hematoma growth in the T1 isointense/hypointense group relative to the T1 hyperintense group was 25.12 (95% CI 3.89–51.58, p < 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS The findings of preoperative MRI, namely T1-weighted sequences, may be useful in predicting the growth of hematomas that did not undergo bur hole surgery in patients with bilateral CSDH.

 

Cranioplasty after decompressive craniectomy: is there a rationale for an initial artificial bone-substitute implant?

Cranioplasty after decompressive craniectomy

J Neurosurg 124:710–715, 2016

The complication rate for cranioplasty after decompressive craniectomy is higher than that after other neurosurgical procedures; aseptic bone resorption is the major long-term problem. Patients frequently need additional operations to remove necrotic bone and replace it with an artificial bone substitute. Initial implantation of a bone substitute may be an option for selected patients who are at risk for bone resorption, but this cohort has not yet been clearly defined. The authors’ goals were to identify risk factors for aseptic bone flap necrosis and define which patients may benefit more from an initial bone-substitute implant than from autograft after craniectomy.

Methods The authors retrospectively analyzed 631 cranioplasty procedures (503 with autograft, 128 with bone substitute) by using a stepwise multivariable logistic regression model and discrimination analysis.

Results There was a significantly higher risk for reoperation after placement of autograft than after placement of bone substitute; aseptic bone necrosis (n = 108) was the major problem (OR 2.48 [95% CI 1.11–5.51]). Fragmentation of the flap into 2 or more fragments, younger age (OR 0.97 [95% CI 0.95–0.98]; p < 0.001), and shunt-dependent hydrocephalus (OR 1.73 [95% CI 1.02–2.92]; p = 0.04) were independent risk factors for bone necrosis. According to discrimination analysis, patients younger than 30 years old and older patients with a fragmented flap had the highest risk of developing bone necrosis.

Conclusions Development of bone flap necrosis is the main concern in long-term follow-up after cranioplasty with autograft. Patients younger than 30 years old and older patients with a fragmented flap may be candidates for an initial artificial bone substitute rather than autograft.

Treatment of isolated cervical facet fractures

cervical facet fracture

J Neurosurg Spine 24:347–354, 2016

In this clinically based systematic review of cervical facet fractures, the authors’ aim was to determine the optimal clinical care for patients with isolated fractures of the cervical facets through a systematic review.

Methods A systematic review of nonoperative and operative treatment methods of cervical facet fractures was performed. Reduction and stabilization treatments were compared, and analysis of postoperative outcomes was performed. MEDLINE and Scopus databases were used. This work was supported through support received from the Association for Collaborative Spine Research and AOSpine North America.

Results Eleven studies with 368 patients met the inclusion criteria. Forty-six patients had bilateral isolated cervical facet fractures and 322 had unilateral isolated cervical facet fractures. Closed reduction was successful in 56.4% (39 patients) and 63.8% (94 patients) of patients using a halo vest and Gardner-Wells tongs, respectively. Comparatively, open reduction was successful in 94.9% of patients (successful reduction of open to closed reduction OR 12.8 [95% CI 6.1–26.9], p < 0.0001); 183 patients underwent internal fixation, with an 87.2% success rate in maintaining anatomical alignment. When comparing the success of patients who underwent anterior versus posterior procedures, anterior approaches showed a 90.5% rate of maintenance of reduction, compared with a 75.6% rate for the posterior approach (anterior vs posterior OR 3.1 [95% CI 1.0–9.4], p = 0.05).

Conclusions In comparison with nonoperative treatments, operative treatments provided a more successful outcome in terms of failure of treatment to maintain reduction for patients with cervical facet fractures. Operative treatment appears to provide superior results to the nonoperative treatments assessed.

Atlantoaxial instability in acute odontoid fractures is associated with nonunion and mortality

Atlantoaxial-instability-in-acute-odontoid-fractures-is-associated-with-nonunion-and-mortality_2015_The-Spine-Journal

The Spine Journal 15 (2015) 910–917

Odontoid fractures are the most common geriatric cervical spine fractures. Nonunion rates have been reported to be up to 40% and mortality up to 35%, and poor functional outcomes are common. Atlantoaxial instability (AAI) is a plausible prognostic factor, but its role has not been previously examined.

PURPOSE: To determine the effect of severe AAI on the outcomes of nonunion and mortality in patients with acute odontoid fractures.

STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective cohort/single institution.

PATIENT SAMPLE: One hundred twenty-four consecutive patients with acute odontoid fractures.

OUTCOME MEASURES: Rates of nonunion and mortality.

METHODS: Two independent blinded reviewers measured AAI using postinjury computed tomography scans. Patients were classified as having ‘‘severe’’ or ‘‘minimal’’ AAI on the basis of greater versus less than or equal to 50% mean subluxation across each C1–C2 facet joint. Rates of nonunion and mortality were compared using independent samples t tests and adjusted for age, displacement, and subtype using binary logistic regression.

RESULTS: One hundred seven patients had minimal AAI and 17 had severe AAI. Mean follow-up was 4.4 months (standard deviation54.6). Patients with severe AAI were more likely to experience nonunion (29% vs. 10%, respectively; p5.03) and mortality (35% vs. 14%, respectively; p5.03) regardless of treatment modality. Fracture displacement correlated with AAI (r250.65). When adjusted for patient age, the odds ratio of nonunion with severe AAI approached significance at 3.3 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.9–11.7). Mortality prediction with AAI approached a twofold increased risk (odds ratio52.1; 95% CI: 0.6–6.8). In patients with Type-II fractures, the odds of mortality with severe AAI approached a threefold higher risk (odds ratio53.3; 95% CI: 0.9–12.3).

CONCLUSIONS: Patients with acute odontoid fractures and severe AAI may be more likely to experience nonunion and mortality, suggesting the possibility that aggressive management could be warranted. Further investigation with a large prospective study including patient-important functional outcomes is justified. 

Evidence-based management of traumatic thoracolumbar burst fractures

Thoracolumbar burst fracture

Neurosurg Focus 37 (1):E1, 2014

The overall evidence for nonoperative management of patients with traumatic thoracolumbar burst fractures is unknown. There is no agreement on the optimal method of conservative treatment. Recent randomized controlled trials that have compared nonoperative to operative treatment of thoracolumbar burst fractures without neurological deficits yielded conflicting results. By assessing the level of evidence on conservative management through validated methodologies, clinicians can assess the availability of critically appraised literature. The purpose of this study was to examine the level of evidence for the use of conservative management in traumatic thoracolumbar burst fractures.

Methods. A comprehensive search of the English literature over the past 20 years was conducted using PubMed (MEDLINE). The inclusion criteria consisted of burst fractures resulting from a traumatic mechanism, and fractures of the thoracic or lumbar spine. The exclusion criteria consisted of osteoporotic burst fractures, pathological burst fractures, and fractures located in the cervical spine. Of the studies meeting the inclusion/exclusion criteria, any study in which nonoperative treatment was used was included in this review.

Results. One thousand ninety-eight abstracts were reviewed and 447 papers met inclusion/exclusion criteria, of which 45 were included in this review. In total, there were 2 Level-I, 7 Level-II, 9 Level-III, 25 Level-IV, and 2 Level- V studies. Of the 45 studies, 16 investigated conservative management techniques, 20 studies compared operative to nonoperative treatments, and 9 papers investigated the prognosis of conservative management.

Conclusions. There are 9 high-level studies (Levels I–II) that have investigated the conservative management of traumatic thoracolumbar burst fractures. In neurologically intact patients, there is no superior conservative management technique over another as supported by a high level of evidence. The conservative technique can be based on patient and surgeon preference, comfort, and access to resources. A high level of evidence demonstrated similar functional outcomes with conservative management when compared with open surgical operative management in patients who were neurologically intact. The presence of a neurological deficit is not an absolute contraindication for conservative treatment as supported by a high level of evidence. However, the majority of the literature excluded patients with neurological deficits. More evidence is needed to further classify the appropriate burst fractures for conservative management to decrease variables that may impact the prognosis.

Minimally invasive spine surgery in the treatment of thoracolumbar and lumbar spine trauma

Minimally invasive spine surgery in the treatment of thoracolumbar and lumbar spine trauma

Neurosurg Focus 37 (1):E11, 2014

Thoracolumbar and lumbar trauma account for the majority of traumatic spinal injuries. The mainstay of current treatments is still nonoperative therapy with bracing. Classic treatment algorithms reserved absolute surgical intervention for spinal trauma patients with neurological compromise or instability. Relative indications included incapacitating pain and obesity/body habitus making brace therapy ineffective.

In the past decade, minimally invasive surgical (MIS) techniques for spine surgery have been increasingly used for degenerative conditions. These same minimally invasive techniques have seen increased use in trauma patients. The goal of minimally invasive surgery is to decrease surgical morbidity through decreased soft-tissue dissection while providing the same structural stability afforded by classic open techniques.

These minimally invasive techniques involve percutaneous posterior pedicle fixation, vertebral body augmentation, and utilization of endoscopic and thoracoscopic techniques.

While MIS techniques are somewhat in their infancy, an increasing number of studies are reporting good clinical and radiographic outcomes with these MIS techniques. However, the literature is still lacking high-quality evidence comparing these newer techniques to classic open treatments. This article reviews the relevant literature regarding minimally invasive spine surgery in the treatment of thoracolumbar and lumbar trauma.

Traumatic injuries to the craniovertebral junction: a review of rare events

Traumatic injuries CVJ

Neurosurg Rev (2014) 37:203–216

The craniovertebral junction is a specific region of the spine with unique anatomical and biomechanical properties that yields a wide variety of injury patterns.

Junctional traumatic fractures and/or dislocations are widely reported in clinical practice, but we could identify only a subgroup of upper cervical spine traumatic injuries with very few cases reported in the literature, and for this reason may be considered rare.

In some of these cases, the absence of spinal biomechanical instability, in association with moderate clinical symptoms (neck stiffness and pain) and the difficulty in fracture identification through standard cervical radiographs, leads to a high percentage of missed injuries.

In other cases, traumatic events have been commonly described only in autopsy series due to the high degree of spinal biomechanical instability.

Herein, we have summarized all the relevant literature concerning this issue and also included our cases, with the aim of emphasizing prompt diagnosis and correct management.

We provide a guide for correctly identifying “rare” craniovertebral junction traumatic injuries.

Risk Factors for Pediatric Arachnoid Cyst Rupture/Hemorrhage: A Case-Control Study

Risk_Factors_for_Pediatric_Arachnoid_Cyst

As the availability of imaging modalities has increased, the finding of arachnoid cysts has become common. Accurate patient counseling regarding physical activity or risk factors for cyst rupture or hemorrhage has been hampered by the lack of definitive association studies.

OBJECTIVE: This case-control study evaluated factors that are associated with arachnoid cyst rupture (intracystic hemorrhage, adjacent subdural hematoma, or adjacent subdural hygroma) in pediatric patients with previously asymptomatic arachnoid cysts.

METHODS: Patients with arachnoid cysts and intracystic hemorrhage, adjacent subdural hygroma, or adjacent subdural hematoma treated at a single institution from 2005 to 2010 were retrospectively identified. Two unruptured/nonhemorrhagic controls were matched to each case based on patient age, sex, anatomical cyst location, and side. Risk factors evaluated included arachnoid cyst size, recent history of head trauma, and altitude at residence.

RESULTS: The proportion of imaged arachnoid cysts that presented either originally or subsequently with a rupture or hemorrhage was 6.0%. Larger cyst size, as defined by maximal cyst diameter, was significantly associated with cyst rupture/hemorrhage (P < .001). When dichotomized with a 5-cm cutoff, 9/13 larger cysts ruptured and/or hemorrhaged, whereas only 5/29 smaller cysts ruptured/hemorrhaged (odds ratio = 16.5 (confidence interval [2.5, N]). A recent history of head trauma was also significantly associated with the outcome (P < .001; odds ratio = 25.1 (confidence interval [4.0, N]). Altitude was not associated with arachnoid cyst rupture or hemorrhage.

CONCLUSION: This case-control study suggests that larger arachnoid cyst size and recent head trauma are risk factors for symptomatic arachnoid cyst rupture/hemorrhage.

The prognostic significance of traumatic brainstem injury detected on T2-weighted MRI

J Neurosurg 117:722–728, 2012

Magnetic resonance imaging is frequently used to evaluate patients with traumatic brain injury in the acute and subacute setting, and it can detect injuries to the brainstem, which are often associated with poor outcomes. This study was undertaken to determine which MRI and clinical factors provide prognostic information in patients with traumatic brainstem injuries.
Methods
The authors performed a retrospective analysis of cases involving patients admitted to a Level I trauma center who were identified in a prospective database as having suffered traumatic brainstem injury identified on MRI. Patient outcomes were dichotomized to dead/vegetative versus functional groups. Standard demographic data, admission Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) scores, results of the motor component of the GCS examination at admission and 24 hours later, CT scan findings, and peak intracranial pressure were collected from medical records. Volumetric analysis of each patient’s injuries was performed with T2-weighted and gradient echo sequences. The T2-weighted MRI sequence for each patient was reviewed to determine the anatomical location of injury within the brainstem and whether the injury crossed the midline.
Results
Thirty-six patients who met the study inclusion criteria were identified. At 6-month follow-up, 53% of these patients had poor outcomes and 47% had recovered. Patients with injuries to the medulla or deep bilateral injuries to the pons did not recover. The T2 volumes were found superior to gradient echo sequences in regard to predicting survival (ROC/AUC 0.67, p = 0.07 vs 0.60, p = 0.29, respectively), but neither reached statistical significance. The timing of MR image acquisition did not influence the findings. The time from admission to MRI did not differ significantly between the recovered group and the poor-outcome group (p = 0.52, Mann-Whitney test), and lesion size as measured by T2 volume did not vary with time to scan (R2 = 0.03, p = 0.3, linear regression). Performing a stepwise logistic regression with all the variables yielded the following factors related to recovery: crossing midline, p = 0.0156, OR 0.075; and 24-hour GCS motor score, p = 0.0045, OR = 2.25, c-statistic 0.913. Further examination of these 2 factors disclosed the following: none of 15 patients with midline-crossing lesions and a 24-hour GCS motor score of 4 or less recovered; conversely, 12 of 13 patients with lesions that did not cross midline recovered, regardless of GCS motor score.
Conclusions
Bilateral injury to the pons and medulla as detected on T2-weighted MRI sequences was associated with poor outcome in patients with brainstem injuries; T2 volumes were found superior to gradient echo sequences in regard to predicting survival, but neither reached statistical significance. When MRI findings were coupled with clinical examination findings, a strong correlation existed between poor outcome and the combination of bilateral brainstem injury and a motor GCS score of 4 or less 24 hours after admission.

Growing skull fracture stages and treatment strategy

J Neurosurg Pediatrics 9:670–675, 2012. (http://thejns.org/doi/abs/10.3171/2012.2.PEDS11538) 

A growing skull fracture (GSF) is a rare but significant late complication of skull fractures, usually occurring during infancy and early childhood. Delayed diagnosis and improper treatment could exacerbate this disease. The aim of this study was to introduce a new hypothesis about, describe the stages of, and discuss the treatment strategy for GSF.

Methods. The authors performed a retrospective review of 27 patients with GSF, who were grouped according to 3 different GSF stages.

Results. Over a period of 20 years, 27 patients with GSF (16 males and 11 females) were treated in the authors’ department. The mean follow-up period was 26.5 months. Six patients were in the prephase of GSF (Stage 1), 10 patients in the early phase (Stage 2), and 11 in the late phase (Stage 3). All patients underwent duraplasty. All 6 patients at Stage 1 and 5 patients at Stage 2 underwent craniotomy without cranioplasty. Five patients at Stage 2 and all of the patients at Stage 3 underwent cranioplasty with autologous bone and alloplastic materials, respectively. Among all patients, 5 underwent ventriculoperitoneal shunt placement. Symptoms in all patients at Stages 1 and 2 were alleviated or disappeared, and the cranial bones developed without deformity during follow-up. Among patients with Stage 3 GSF, no obvious improvement in neurological deficits was observed. Three patients underwent additional operations because of cranial deformation or infection.

Conclusions. The authors identify the stages of GSF according to a new hypothesis. They conclude that accurately diagnosing and treating GSF during Stages 1 and 2 leads to a better prognosis.

Occipital condyle fractures. Prospective follow-up of 31 cases within 5 years at a level 1 trauma centre

Eur Spine J (2012) 21:289–294. DOI 10.1007/s00586-011-1963-7
Prospective investigation of incidence and outcome of occipital condyle fractures (OCF) in a level 1 trauma centre.
Methods  Over a period of 5 years, we prospectively recorded all cases of OCF, and performed a 1-year postinjury radiological and clinical follow-up using CT imaging, SF-36 and Neck Disability Index, respectively.
Results  A total of 31 patients with OCF were identified. Based on a total of 2,616 CT scans that had been performed during this period, the incidence was 1.19%. There were 27 unilateral and 4 bilateral OCFs. Furthermore, 3 out of 31 patients (9.7%) were additionally diagnosed with atlantooccipital dislocation (AOD), one of which was dorsally stabilised in a surgical procedure. All other patients were treated conservatively. 5 out of 31 patients (16.1%) died due to the severity of associated injuries. 22 out of 31 patients (70.9%) were prospectively followed-up for 1 year after trauma. During this period, CT imaging showed bony consolidation of fractures in all cases except for one, with no evidence of secondary dislocation or nonunion. Evaluation of the Neck Disability Index showed moderate disability. The SF-36 questionnaire showed an impaired quality of life in all areas; however, these were determined by associated injuries and independent of the type of fracture.
Conclusions  Both unilateral and bilateral OCFs represent a stable injury regardless of the type of fracture. If AOD has been diagnosed in addition, it requires surgical stabilisation—independent of the OCF—and it is a significant predictor for poor outcomes. The patients quality of life 1 year after trauma has not been affected by the OCF, but by the overall pattern of the injury and by comorbidities. Based on our results, we introduce a new, simple and practical classification for OCFs

Increased incidence of nonaccidental head trauma in infants associated with the economic recession

J Neurosurg Pediatrics 8:171-176, 2011.DOI: 10.3171/2011.5.PEDS1139

Nonaccidental head trauma (NAHT) is a major cause of death in infants. During the current economic recession, the authors noticed an anecdotal increase in infants with NAHT without an increase in the overall number of infants admitted with traumatic injuries. An analysis was performed to determine whether there was an association between economic recession and NAHT.

Methods. With Institutional Review Board approval, the trauma database was searched for NAHT in infants 0–2 years old during nonrecession (December 2001 to November 2007) and recession (December 2007 to June 2010) periods. Incidence is reported as infants with NAHT per month summarized over time periods. Continuous variables were compared using Mann-Whitney U-tests, and proportions were compared using the Fisher exact test.

Results. Six hundred thirty-nine infant traumas were observed during the study time period. From the nonrecession to the recession period, there was an 8.2% reduction in all traumas (458 in 72 months [6.4 /month] vs 181 in 31 months [5.8/month]) and a 3.5% reduction in accidental head traumas (142 in 72 months [2.0/month] vs 59 in 31 months [1.9/month]). Nonaccidental head trauma accounted for 14.6% of all traumas (93/639). The median patient age was 4.0 months and 52% were boys. There were no significant differences in the representative counties of referral or demographics between nonrecession and recession populations (all p > 0.05). The monthly incidence rates of NAHT doubled from nonrecession to recession periods (50 in 72 months [0.7/month] vs 43 in 31 months [1.4/month]; p = 0.01). During this recession, at least 1 NAHT was reported in 68% of the months compared with 44% of the months during the nonrecession period (p = 0.03). The severity of NAHTs also increased, with a greater proportion of deaths (11.6% vs 4%, respectively; p = 0.16) and severe brain injury (Glasgow Coma Scale score ≤ 8: 19.5% vs 4%, respectively; p = 0.06) during the recession.

Conclusions. In the context of an overall reduction in head trauma, the significant increase in the incidence of NAHT appears coincident with economic recession. Although the cause is likely multifactorial, a full analysis of the basis of this increase is beyond the scope of this study. This study highlights the need to protect vulnerable infants during challenging economic times.

Risk Factors for Conversion to Permanent Ventricular Shunt in Patients Receiving Therapeutic Ventriculostomy for Traumatic Brain Injury

Neurosurgery 68:85–88, 2011 DOI: 10.1227/NEU.0b013e3181fd85f4

Intracranial pressure is routinely monitored in patients with severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). Patients with TBI sometimes develop hydrocephalus, requiring permanent cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) diversion. OBJECTIVE: To quantify the need for permanent CSF diversion in patients with TBI. METHODS: Patients who received a ventriculostomy after TBI between June 2007 and July 2008 were identified, and their medical records were abstracted to a database. RESULTS: Sixteen of 71 patients (22.5%) receiving a ventriculostomy required a ventriculoperitoneal or ventriculoatrial shunt before discharge from the hospital. The average number of days between ventriculostomy and shunt was 18.3. Characteristics that predispose these patients to require permanent CSF diversion include the need for craniotomy within 48 hours of admission (odds ratio, 5.20; 95% confidence interval, 1.48-18.35) and history of culture-positive CSF (odds ratio, 5.52; 95% confidence interval, 1.19-25.52). Length of stay was increased in patients receiving permanent CSF diversion (average length of stay, 61 vs 31 days; P = .04). Patient discharge disposition was similar between shunted and nonshunted patients. CONCLUSION: In this retrospective study, 22% of TBI patients who required a ventriculostomy eventually needed permanent CSF diversion. Patients with TBI should be assessed for the need for permanent CSF diversion before discharge from the hospital. Care must be taken to prevent ventriculitis. Future studies are needed to evaluate more thoroughly the risk factors for the need for permanent CSF diversion in this patient population.

Occipital condyle fractures: clinical decision rule and surgical management

JNS Spine DOI: 10.3171/2009.5.SPINE08866

Object. Occipital condyle fractures (OCFs) are rare injuries and their treatment remains controversial. Several classification systems have been proposed, first by Anderson and Montesano and more recently by Tuli and colleagues and Hanson and associates, who sought to stratify these fractures in a manner that would guide treatment that has typically ranged from semirigid collar immobilization to halo fixation or occipitocervical fusion. It has been the authors’ impression, based on experience with OCFs at their institution, that classification is cumbersome and contributes little to the clinical decision-making process, while the identification of craniocervical misalignment and neural element compromise is paramount, and sufficient, for the planning of treatment.

Methods. The authors performed a retrospective review of 24,745 consecutive trauma presentations to a single Level I trauma center (UPMC Presbyterian Hospital) over a 6-year period, identifying 100 patients with 106 OCFs. All patients were evaluated by the spine trauma service and underwent imaging of the craniocervical junction using reconstructed CT scans. Patient characteristics, fracture characteristics (including fracture classification according to the 2 major classification systems), initial management, and status at follow-up were recorded.

Results. The incidence of OCF in this trauma population was 0.4%. Two patients had evidence of craniocervical misalignment on reconstructed CT imaging at the time of admission; both patients underwent occipitocervical fusion. One patient underwent occipitocervical fusion for unrelated C1–2 fractures. The remainder of those surviving to discharge, whose fractures represented all fracture subtypes, received treatment with a rigid cervical collar or counseling alone. No patients, including 4 patients with bilateral OCFs, were found to have developed delayed craniocervical instability or misalignment on follow-up, or to require further neurosurgical intervention for an OCF. Neural element compression was not identified in any of the patients, and there were no cases of delayed cranial neuropathy.

Conclusions. Beyond the identification of craniocervical misalignment on reconstructed CT scans at admission, further classification of OCFs is unnecessary. Management should consist of up-front occipitocervical fusion or halo fixation in cases demonstrating occipitocervical misalignment, or of immobilization in a rigid cervical collar followed by delayed clinical and radiographic evaluation in a spine trauma clinic if misalignment is not present.

Neurosurgery Department. “La Fe” University Hospital. Valencia, Spain

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