Intraoperative MRI (iMRI) is assumed to safely improve the extent of resection (EOR) in patients with gliomas. This study focuses on advantages of this imaging technology in elective low-grade glioma (LGG) surgery in pediatric patients.
The surgical results of conventional and 1.5-T iMRI-guided elective LGG surgery in pediatric patients were retrospectively compared. Tumor volumes, general clinical data, EOR according to reference radiology assessment, and progression-free survival (PFS) were analyzed.
Sixty-five patients were included in the study, of whom 34 had undergone conventional surgery before the iMRI unit opened (pre-iMRI period) and 31 had undergone surgery with iMRI guidance (iMRI period). Perioperative data were comparable between the 2 cohorts, apart from larger preoperative tumor volumes in the pre-iMRI period, a difference without statistical significance, and (as expected) significantly longer surgeries in the iMRI group. According to 3-month postoperative MRI studies, an intended complete resection (CR) was achieved in 41% (12 of 29) of the patients in the pre-iMRI period and in 71% (17 of 24) of those in the iMRI period (p = 0.05). Of those cases in which the surgeon was postoperatively convinced that he had successfully achieved CR, this proved to be true in only 50% of cases in the pre-iMRI period but in 81% of cases in the iMRI period (p = 0.055). Residual tumor volumes on 3-month postoperative MRI were significantly smaller in the iMRI cohort (p < 0.03). By continuing the resection of residual tumor after the intraoperative scan (when the surgeon assumed that he had achieved CR), the rate of CR was increased from 30% at the time of the scan to 85% at the 3-month postoperative MRI.
The mean follow-up for the entire study cohort was 36.9 months (3–79 months). Progression-free survival after surgery was noticeably better for the entire iMRI cohort and in iMRI patients with postoperatively assumed CR, but did not quite reach statistical significance. Moreover, PFS was highly significantly better in patients with CRs than in those with incomplete resections (p < 0.001).
Significantly better surgical results (CR) and PFS were achieved after using iMRI in patients in whom total resections were intended. Therefore, the use of high-field iMRI is strongly recommended for electively planned LGG resections in pediatric patients.