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Magn Reson Imaging. 2000 Sep;18(7):787-93.

Subtle white matter volume differences in children treated for medulloblastoma with conventional or reduced dose craniospinal irradiation.

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  • 1Department of Diagnostic Imaging, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN, USA.


Medulloblastoma is the most common malignant brain tumor in children, and approximately seventy percent of average-risk patients will achieve long-term survival. Craniospinal irradiation (CSI), combined with chemotherapy and surgery, is currently the mainstay of treatment but places children who survive at risk for serious neurocognitive sequelae. These sequelae are intensified with a younger age at treatment, greater elapsed time following treatment, and an increased radiation dose. Many newer treatment approaches have attempted to address this problem by reducing the dose of the CSI component of radiation therapy while maintaining the current survival rates. This study evaluates longitudinal MR imaging during therapy to assess the impact of the two CSI doses (conventional [36 Gy] and reduced [23.4 Gy]) on normal appearing white matter volumes (NAWMV) evaluated in a single index slice. Twenty-six children and young adults at least three years of age enrolled on an institutional protocol for newly diagnosed, previously untreated primary medulloblastoma had at least four MR examinations over a minimum nine month period following CSI. These serial volumes were evaluated as a function of time since CSI in three analyses: 1) all subjects, 2) subjects stratified by age at CSI, and 3) subjects stratified by CSI dose. The first analysis demonstrated that medulloblastoma patients treated with CSI have a significant loss of NAWMV in contradistiction to normally expected maturation. Stratifying the patients by age at CSI found no significant differences in the rate of NAWMV loss. The final analysis stratified the patients by CSI dose and revealed that the rate of NAWMV loss was 23% slower in children receiving reduced-dose. Serial quantitative MR measures of NAWMV may provide a neuroanatomical substrate for assessing functional impact of CSI on normal brain function following treatment for medulloblastoma.

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