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Friedrich W. Kreth, Michael Faist, Peter C. Warnke, Reinhard Roβner, Benedikt Volk and Christoph B. Ostertag

✓ The treatment of patients with low-grade gliomas remains a subject of controversy, especially with respect to new treatment modalities such as interstitial radiosurgery (brachytherapy), radiosurgery, and stereotactic radiotherapy. In a retrospective analysis conducted between 1979 and 1991, the authors studied the results of interstitial radiosurgery in 455 patients with low-grade gliomas (World Health Organization (WHO) Grade I + WHO Grade II) with regard to survival time, quality of life, the risk of malignant transformation, and the risk profile of the treatment concept. Interstitial radiosurgery with iodine-125 was performed using permanent (1979–1985) or temporary implants (after 1985) with low-dose rates (≤ 10 cGy/hr) and a reference dose of 60 to 100 Gy calculated to the outer rim of the tumor.

The 5- and 10-year survival rates in patients with pilocytic astrocytomas (97 patients) were 84.9% and 83%, and in patients with WHO Grade II astrocytomas (250 patients) 61% and 51%, respectively. Five-year survival rates for patients with oligoastrocytomas (60 patients), oligodendrogliomas (27 patients), and gemistocytic astrocytomas (21 patients) were 49%, 50%, and 32%, respectively. In the group with WHO Grade II gliomas, young age and a good performance status were associated with a better prognosis. Unfavorable factors were midline shift, enhancement on computerized tomography (CT) scan, and tumor recurrence after previous radiotherapy or surgery. Tumor location had no influence on the prognosis (247 patients in this series had deep-seated tumors). Malignant transformation was the major cause of death. Important risk factors for malignancy were the patient's age, tumor enhancement in CT scan, and tumor recurrence after previous surgery or radiotherapy. Perioperative mortality was 0.9% and perioperative morbidity was 1.7%. Radiogenic complications were observed in 2.7% of all patients, most often in larger tumors and after using permanent implants. The authors conclude that interstitial radiosurgery represents a specific treatment modality for selected patients with unifocal circumscribed low-grade gliomas with a diameter of less than 4 cm in any location. The efficacy of this treatment lies in the same range as the best results after surgery and radiotherapy.