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AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2006 May;27(5):962-71.

Primary intracranial atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumors of infancy and childhood: MRI features and patient outcomes.

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Departments of Radiology, University of Rochester School of Medicine, Strong Memorial Hospital, Rochester, NY 14642, USA.



Primary atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumors (AT/RTs) are rare malignant intracranial neoplasms, usually occurring in young children. The objectives of this study were to characterize the MR imaging features and locations of primary intracranial AT/RTs, to determine the frequency of disseminated disease in the central nervous system (CNS) at diagnosis and postoperatively, and to assess patient outcomes.


The preoperative cranial MR images of 13 patients with AT/RTs were retrospectively reviewed for evaluation of lesion location, size, MR signal intensity and enhancement characteristics, and the presence of disseminated intracranial tumor. Postoperative MR images of the head and spine for 17 patients were reviewed for the presence of locally recurrent or residual tumor and disseminated neoplasm. Imaging data were correlated with patient outcomes.


Patients ranged in age from 4 months to 15 years (median age, 2.9 years). Primary AT/RTs were intra-axial in 94% of patients. The single primary extra-axial lesion was located in the cerebellopontine angle cistern. AT/RTs were infratentorial in 47%, supratentorial in 41%, and both infra- and supratentorial in 12%. A germ-line mutation of the hSNF5/INI1 tumor-suppressor gene was responsible for the simultaneous occurrence of an intracranial AT/RT and a malignant renal rhabdoid tumor in a 4-month-old patient. Mean tumor sizes were 3.6 x 3.8 x 3.9 cm. On short TR images, AT/RTs typically had heterogeneous intermediate signal intensity, as well as zones of low (54%), high (8%), or both low and high (31%) signal intensity from cystic and/or necrotic regions, hemorrhage, or both, respectively. On long TR/long TE images, solid portions of AT/RTs typically had heterogeneous intermediate-to-slightly-high signal intensity with additional zones of high (54%) or both high and low signal intensity (38%), secondary to cystic and/or necrotic regions, edema, prior hemorrhage, and/or calcifications. AT/RT had isointense and/or slightly hyperintense signal intensity relative to gray matter on fluid-attenuated inversion-recovery (FLAIR) and long TR/long TE images, and showed restricted diffusion. All except 1 AT/RT showed contrast enhancement. The fraction of tumor volume showing enhancement was greater than two thirds in 58%, between one third and two thirds in 33%, and less than one third in 9%. Disseminated tumor in the leptomeninges was seen with MR imaging in 24% of patients at diagnosis/initial staging and occurred in another 35% from 4 months to 2.8 years (mean, 1.1 years) after surgery and earlier imaging examinations with negative findings. The overall 1-year and 5-year survival probabilities were 71% and 28%, respectively. Patients with MR imaging evidence of disseminated leptomeningeal tumor had a median survival rate of 16 months compared with 149 months for those without disseminated tumor (P < .004, logrank test).


AT/RTs are typically intra-axial lesions, which can be infra- and/or supratentorial. The unenhanced and enhanced MR imaging features of AT/RT are often variable secondary to cystic/necrotic changes, hemorrhage, and/or calcifications. Poor prognosis is associated with MR imaging evidence of disseminated leptomeningeal tumor.

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