Optic chiasmatic-hypothalamic glioma

E Alshail, J T Rutka, L E Becker, H J Hoffman
Brain Pathology 1997, 7 (2): 799-806
Optic chiasmatic-hypothalamic gliomas (OCHGs) have been considered benign tumors and self-limiting in growth potential because of their histological appearance. Unfortunately, most clinical series have reported significant morbidity and mortality especially with the more extensive, posteriorly positioned tumors. The biological behavior of OCHGs is age-dependent, with patients younger than five years and older than 20 years typically having tumors that exhibit aggressive growth. There are no specific pathological features to help differentiate the clinical behavior of such tumors. The emergence of modern imaging techniques, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), has facilitated the monitoring of the natural history of the disease and the determination of the effects of therapy. Most patients with OCHGs survive for many years. While the natural history of an OCHG for any individual may be indeterminate, enough data are now available from large series to make recommendations for treatment. Our current treatment policy for patients with OCHGs in the context of NF-I without visual failure is a conservative one involving CSF shunting for hydrocephalus if present and medical therapy for endocrinologic dysfunction. Patients with or without NF-I with visual deterioration or progressive neurological deficits and a rapidly expanding suprasellar mass lesion are treated surgically. After tumor resection, patients whose vision is significantly compromised or who show progression of their disease on serial neuroimaging scans receive chemotherapy. If chemotherapy proves ineffective in disease stabilization, then considerations of radiation therapy are given to children over five years old.

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