Do grip and pinch strength predict neurologic complications in children with spina bifida and hydrocephalus

Liptak GS, Fried R, Baltus-Hebert E, Eyer Tierney S, Fucile S, Doremus TL. Do grip and pinch strength predict neurologic complications in children with spina bifida and hydrocephalus? Pediatric Neurosurgery. 2006;42(4):208-13.

BACKGROUND: Neurological complications occur commonly in children with meningomyelocele and can cause significant morbidity and mortality. An earlier study suggested that acute changes in grip and pinch strength could be used to identify individuals at increased risk for developing a neurological complication.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the use of grip and pinch measurements to screen for neurological problems in children with spina bifida and hydrocephalus.

DESIGN: A prospective evaluation of screening tests.

PATIENTS: 92 children, born since 1976, who had meningomyelocele and hydrocephalus and were treated at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

METHODS: Grip and pinch strength were measured between July, 1991, and June, 2003. RESULTS: Mean grip and pinch strengths were similar to those found in previous studies of children with meningomyelocele; 58 neurological events occurred in 39 (40%) individuals. These included 31 episodes of ventricular shunt failure and 22 symptomatic tethered cord occurrences. Specificity, sensitivity and likelihood ratios were calculated in multiple ways using different criteria for loss of grip or pinch strength and for interval to neurological event. Sensitivities were low (<0.35) and the highest positive likelihood ratio found, using fall in either lateral pinch with 6 months to neurological event, was 2.3.

CONCLUSIONS: Despite previous recommendations, grip and pinch measurements were not helpful when used as a routine screening test for neurological dysfunction for children with meningomyelocele and hydrocephalus.

PMID: 16714860