Juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma of the brainstem in children

John Kestle, Jeannette J Townsend, Douglas L Brockmeyer, Marion L Walker
Journal of Neurosurgery 2004, 101 (1 Suppl): 1-6

OBJECT: In reports involving the operative treatment of brainstem tumors, multiple histological types are often grouped together. To determine prognosis after resection, histology-specific data may be helpful.

METHODS: Twenty-eight patients with juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma (JPA) of the brainstem (six in the midbrain, four in the pons, and 18 in the medulla) were identified from the medical records. Initial treatment was resection in 25 and biopsy sampling in three. Postoperative imaging revealed gross-total resection (GTR) or resection with linear enhancement (RLE) in 12 of 25 patients and solid residual tumor in the other 13. In 10 of the 13 patients harboring solid residual tumor, observation was undertaken; the residual lesion disappeared in one, was stable in four, and progressed in five. Of the 12 patients with complete excision or RLE only, seven underwent no further treatment, with tumor progression occurring in one. All patients were alive at last follow-up examination (range 0.3-20.4 years, mean 6 years). New neurological deficits commonly appeared immediately after resection but often resolved. In six of the 28 patients, the new postoperative deficit was still present at last follow-up visit. The 5- and 10-year progression-free survival was 74 and 62%, respectively, after GTR or RLE and 19 and 19%, respectively, when solid residual tumor was present.

CONCLUSIONS: Long-term survival after resection of JPAs of the brainstem has been observed and appears to be related to the extent of initial excision.

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