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07.05.2020 | Original Article | Ausgabe 12/2020

Child's Nervous System 12/2020

Neurosurgical management of conus lipoma in Canada: a multi-center survey

Child's Nervous System > Ausgabe 12/2020
Branavan Manoranjan, Alex Pozdnyakov, Olufemi Ajani
Wichtige Hinweise

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Lipomyelomeningocele (LMM) is a congenital spinal cord anomaly. While patients with LMM may initially be asymptomatic, neurological sequelae secondary to LMM may become apparent as the patient ages. Consequently, some pediatric neurosurgeons have advocated for upfront neurosurgical interventions irrespective of the presence of symptoms at diagnosis. By contrast, others pursue a conservative approach when overt neurological symptoms are not yet evident. In light of the various practice styles to the heterogeneous anatomical locations, symptoms, and ages associated with LMM, we have conducted a multi-center survey of Canadian pediatric neurosurgeons using clinical vignettes representative of LMM patients.


An online survey of the opinions of Canadian pediatric neurosurgeons was conducted using 5 separate cases with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of the lumbar spine. Each case was accompanied with the same three clinical vignettes, which varied in severity at time of presentation: asymptomatic, progressive somatic motor deficit, or longstanding overflow incontinence. Participants were asked the question, “Would you offer surgical management?” after each clinical vignette. After the five cases and their corresponding 3 clinical vignettes, participants were asked, “If you answered yes to any of the preceding questions, what type of surgery would you perform?”. Options for surgical goals and techniques included complete removal, near-total removal, debulking, detethering, and expansile duroplasty. Surgical adjuncts included CUSA, LASER, and neurophysiologic monitoring.


Twenty-three responses were received from the 38 questionnaires sent out to all staff pediatric neurosurgeons across academic medical centers in Canada. This represented a response rate of 61%. Canadian pediatric neurosurgeons generally maintain a conservative approach to the surgical management of LMM as only 13% (n = 3) of surgeons indicated that they would operate in all scenarios. By contrast, 43% (n = 10) indicated surgical management in only those cases presenting with symptoms, and another 43% (n = 10) displayed a variable surgical approach. Nine percent (n = 2) of participants would not perform surgery for incontinence. The greatest level of disagreement among participants pertained to the management of asymptomatic sacral LMM where 43% of participants favored prophylactic surgery, while 57% of participants preferred conservative management.


The current study highlights the differences in management of LMM among Canadian pediatric neurosurgeons and provides further support for future prospective cohort studies to develop appropriate expert opinions and guidelines such that the care of LMM patients may be according to evidence-based best practice. This is especially true for the treatment of asymptomatic patients, a patient group that would benefit from a randomized controlled trial to assess the long-term outcomes of conservative and surgical management.

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