Evaluation and treatment of children with radiation-induced cerebral vasculopathy

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  • 1 Departments of Neurosurgery and
  • | 2 Neurology, University of Tennessee Health Science Center;
  • | 3 Semmes Murphey Clinic;
  • | 4 Department of Radiology, University of Tennessee Health Science Center;
  • | 5 Division of Neuroradiology, Le Bonheur Neuroscience Institute,
  • | 6 Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital; and
  • | 7 Division of Neurology, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee
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OBJECTIVE

Stenoocclusive cerebral vasculopathy is an infrequent delayed complication of ionizing radiation. It has been well described with photon-based radiation therapy but less so following proton-beam radiotherapy. The authors report their recent institutional experience in evaluating and treating children with radiation-induced cerebral vasculopathy.

METHODS

Eligible patients were age 21 years or younger who had a history of cranial radiation and subsequently developed vascular narrowing detected by MR arteriography that was significant enough to warrant cerebral angiography, with or without ischemic symptoms. The study period was January 2011 to March 2019.

RESULTS

Thirty-one patients met the study inclusion criteria. Their median age was 12 years, and 18 (58%) were male. Proton-beam radiation therapy was used in 20 patients (64.5%) and photon-based radiation therapy was used in 11 patients (35.5%). Patients were most commonly referred for workup as a result of incidental findings on surveillance tumor imaging (n = 23; 74.2%). Proton-beam patients had a shorter median time from radiotherapy to catheter angiography (24.1 months [IQR 16.8–35.4 months]) than patients who underwent photon-based radiation therapy (48.2 months [IQR 26.6–61.1 months]; p = 0.04). Eighteen hemispheres were revascularized in 15 patients. One surgical patient suffered a contralateral hemispheric infarct 2 weeks after revascularization; no child treated medically (aspirin) has had a stroke to date. The median follow-up duration was 29.2 months (IQR 21.8–54.0 months) from the date of the first catheter angiogram to last clinic visit.

CONCLUSIONS

All children who receive cranial radiation therapy from any source, particularly if the parasellar region was involved and the child was young at the time of treatment, require close surveillance for the development of vasculopathy. A structured and detailed evaluation is necessary to determine optimal treatment.

ABBREVIATIONS

ASL = arterial spin labeling; TIA = transient ischemic attack.

Illustration from Proctor and Meara (pp 622–631). Copyright Mark Proctor. Used with permission.

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