Insertion of an intrathecal baclofen (ITB) pump can provide significant benefits in patients with cerebral palsy (CP). However, there are little data describing the risk of complications. Specifically, there is a lack of data describing the incidence of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leakage and risk factors following ITB placement. The purpose of our study was to describe risk factors for developing CSF leak in pediatric patients with CP treated with ITB and to report the treatment and outcome of CSF leaks.
Following institutional review board approval, 720 ITB procedures in 341 children with CP were identified retrospectively over a 15-year study period. Patients’ demographic characteristics, medical comorbidities, muscle tone patterns, feeding tube status, seizure history, inpatient events, ITB-related CSF leak and headache complaints and their management, and other complications were evaluated.
Eighty-five (24.9%) patients experienced 90 CSF leak episodes over a follow-up time of 6.3±3.9 years. There were 72 episodes of headache as a result of CSF leakage in 61 (71.7%) of these 85 patients. There was a positive correlation between the risk of CSF leak and preoperative comorbidities such as epilepsy/seizure history, feeding tube, mixed type CP, and dystonic type CP. The risk of CSF leak after primary ITB administration was 5.8% (20/341), and the risk after secondary ITB procedures due to complications was 24.2% (32/132). There was no significant relationship between CSF leak and primary ITB (P=0.21), but the risk of CSF leak was positively correlated to the secondary ITB due to complications (P<0.05).
CSF leak was fairly common (25% incidence), and it correlated with epilepsy/seizure history, feeding tube, mixed type CP, and dystonic type CP. Recurrent ITB procedures were a risk factor for CSF leak. Half of these patients had self-limited symptoms that improved with conservative medical treatment, and the epidural blood patch was successful in resistant cases. Successful treatment of CSF leakage complications allows patients to continue ITB.
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