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Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2008 Feb;50(2):331-6.

CNS complications in children receiving chemotherapy or hematopoietic stem cell transplantation: retrospective analysis and clinical study of survivors.

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University Children's Hospital Ulm, Eythstr. 24, D-89081 Ulm, Germany.



Clinical studies analyzing CNS complications in pediatric oncology systematically are rare.


In a single center retrospective analysis, CNS complications in 950 subsequent pediatric patients treated between 1992 and 2004 by chemotherapy or hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) were studied. Forty-six patients had pre-existing CNS diseases and were excluded. Out of the 904 remaining, 76 (8.4%) had 82 CNS complications.


The most common manifestations were seizures (in 50.6% of the CNS episodes), altered states of consciousness, and motor deficits (in 47.5% of the episodes each). CNS complications were caused by infections (26.8%), toxicity (25.6%), neoplasma (13.4%), vascular (10.9%), and metabolic disturbances (8.5%). In 14.6%, the mechanism remained unclear. Patients (23.7%) died from the CNS event. Neoplastic disorders had the worst (50%) while metabolic the best (0% mortality) prognosis. Imaging techniques were the most effective diagnostic measures, followed by laboratory analysis, clinical examination, and CSF analysis. A neuro-psychological (CBCL, CFT-1/-20-testing) examination could be done in 21 of 32 long-term survivors. Seven had a major, 3 minor neurological impairment, 11 were normal in all tests.


These data show that there is not one typical CNS complication, but a wide variety. There is no close connection between either underlying disease or symptoms and cause of the complication. Prognosis is variable. About two thirds of the long-term survivors could lead a normal life.

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