The long-term outcome after surgical treatment of dorsally exophytic brain-stem gliomas

I F Pollack, H J Hoffman, R P Humphreys, L Becker
Journal of Neurosurgery 1993, 78 (6): 859-63
Dorsally exophytic brain-stem gliomas represent a distinctive subgroup of pediatric brain-stem neoplasms that are amenable to radical excision because of their benign histology and growth characteristics. However, their attachment to the floor of the fourth ventricle invariably precludes complete tumor excision. The long-term behavior of the residual tumor remains a subject of concern. To address this issue, the authors reviewed their experience with 18 dorsally exophytic brain-stem gliomas treated between 1974 and 1990. At operation, the tumors filled the fourth ventricle, fungating out of a broad-based area of the dorsal brain stem. The exophytic tumor was resected, but no attempt was made to remove tumor from the brain stem. Histological examination showed that 16 of the tumors were grade I or II astrocytomas, one was a ganglioglioma, and one was an otherwise benign-appearing glioma with several foci of anaplasia that was classified as a grade III astrocytoma. The latter patient was one of only two in the series to receive postoperative radiation therapy; both cases so treated have no evidence of disease on follow-up imaging studies 61 and 135 months postoperatively. One other child who had stable disease postoperatively died of shunt malfunction 18 months after tumor excision. Serial radiographic studies in the other 15 patients have shown no evidence of disease in three, stable residual disease in eight, and tumor enlargement 12, 28, 40, and 84 months postoperatively in four (median follow-up period 113 months). Each of the four patients with tumor regrowth underwent repeat tumor excision. Two of these children received perioperative radiation therapy at the time of disease progression and both showed reduction in tumor volume 28 and 65 months after their second operation. In contrast, both patients who did not receive radiotherapy at the time of disease progression had further tumor enlargement 48 and 84 months after their second operation and underwent a third tumor resection; one received postoperative radiation therapy and has no evidence of disease 58 months after his third operation and the other child has stable disease 27 months postoperatively. Histological examination of tumor specimens obtained at second and third operations showed no change from the appearance of the tumor on the initial resection. The authors conclude that the majority of dorsally exophytic brain-stem gliomas can be managed successfully with subtotal excision and, if necessary, cerebrospinal fluid diversion. The small percentage of tumors in this series that showed recurrent growth remained benign histologically.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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