Thalamopeduncular tumors are a group of pediatric low-grade gliomas that arise at the interface of the thalamus and brainstem peduncle. They typically occur within the first 2 decades of life, presenting with progressive spastic hemiparesis. Treatment strategies, including surgical intervention, have varied significantly. The authors present their experience in the treatment of 13 children, ages 2–15 years, with non-neurofibromatosis–related pilocytic astrocytomas located in the thalamopeduncular region.
Between 2003 and 2016, 13 children presenting with progressive spastic hemiparesis due to a pilocytic astrocytoma at the interface of the thalamus and cerebral peduncles were identified. Medical records were reviewed retrospectively for clinical, radiological, pathological, and surgical data. Formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue was obtained for 12 cases and tested for KIAA1549-BRAF fusion and BRAF V600E point mutation.
On preoperative diffusion tensor imaging tractography (performed in 12 patients), the ipsilateral corticospinal tract was displaced laterally in 1 case (8.3%), medially in 1 case (8.3%), anterolaterally in 10 cases (83%), and posteriorly in no cases. Ten patients underwent resection via a transtemporal, transchoroidal approach, which was chosen to avoid further damage to motor function in cases of tumors that caused anterolateral or medial corticospinal tract displacement. With this approach, complications included hemianopia, oculomotor palsy, and tremor at a rate of 50%. Among the 12 patients with obtainable follow-up (mean 50.9 months), none received adjuvant therapy, and only 2 (17%) experienced recurrence or progression. KIAA1549-BRAF fusions were present in 10 cases (83%), while BRAF V600E was absent (0%). The 2 fusion-negative tumors had clinical features atypical for the series, including multi-focality and infiltration.
Transcortical, transchoroidal resection of thalamopeduncular tumors through the middle temporal gyrus allows for a high rate of gross-total resection and cure. Diffuse tensor tractography is a critical component of the preoperative planning process to determine the location of white matter tracts in proximity. Molecular status may correlate with clinical features, and the presence of BRAF lesions offers an additional target for future novel therapeutics.