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Serge Marbacher, Elisabeth Klinger, Lucia Schwyzer, Ingeborg Fischer, Edin Nevzati, Michael Diepers, Ulrich Roelcke, Ali-Reza Fathi, Daniel Coluccia and Javier Fandino


The accurate discrimination between tumor and normal tissue is crucial for determining how much to resect and therefore for the clinical outcome of patients with brain tumors. In recent years, guidance with 5-aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA)–induced intraoperative fluorescence has proven to be a useful surgical adjunct for gross-total resection of high-grade gliomas. The clinical utility of 5-ALA in resection of brain tumors other than glioblastomas has not yet been established. The authors assessed the frequency of positive 5-ALA fluorescence in a cohort of patients with primary brain tumors and metastases.


The authors conducted a single-center retrospective analysis of 531 patients with intracranial tumors treated by 5-ALA–guided resection or biopsy. They analyzed patient characteristics, preoperative and postoperative liver function test results, intraoperative tumor fluorescence, and histological data. They also screened discharge summaries for clinical adverse effects resulting from the administration of 5-ALA. Intraoperative qualitative 5-ALA fluorescence (none, mild, moderate, and strong) was documented by the surgeon and dichotomized into negative and positive fluorescence.


A total of 458 cases qualified for final analysis. The highest percentage of 5-ALA–positive fluorescence in open resection was found in glioblastomas (96%, n = 99/103). Among other tumors, 5-ALA–positive fluorescence was detected in 88% (n = 21/32) of anaplastic gliomas (WHO Grade III), 40% (n = 8/19) of low-grade gliomas (WHO Grade II), no (n = 0/3) WHO Grade I gliomas, and 77% (n = 85/110) of meningiomas. Among metastases, the highest percentage of 5-ALA–positive fluorescence was detected in adenocarcinomas (48%, n = 13/27). Low rates or absence of positive fluorescence was found among pituitary adenomas (8%, n = 1/12) and schwannomas (0%, n = 0/7). Biopsies of high-grade primary brain tumors showed positive rates of fluorescence similar to those recorded for open resection. No clinical adverse effects associated with use of 5-ALA were observed. Only 1 patient had clinically silent transient elevation of liver enzymes.


Study findings suggest that the administration of 5-ALA as a surgical adjunct for resection and biopsy of primary brain tumors and brain metastases is safe. In light of the high rate of positive fluorescence in high-grade gliomas other than glioblastomas, meningiomas, and a variety of metastatic cancers, 5-ALA seems to be a promising tool for enhancing intraoperative identification of neoplastic tissue and optimizing the extent of resection.

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Christian Schneider, Ian Kamaly-Asl, Vijay Ramaswamy, Lucie Lafay-Cousin, Abhaya V. Kulkarni, James T. Rutka, Marc Remke, Daniel Coluccia, Uri Tabori, Cynthia Hawkins, Eric Bouffet and Michael D. Taylor


Choroid plexus carcinomas (CPCs) are rare brain tumors originating from the ventricular choroid plexus. They account for 2%–4% of all pediatric brain tumors and are most frequently seen in very young children. This pediatric proclivity, in combination with a marked vascularity, renders an aggressive resection a difficult and often dangerous endeavor. Blood losses of several total blood volumes in small children are not uncommon, sometimes forcing the neurosurgeon to abort the procedure, often leaving residual tumor. Great extent of tumor resection is an accepted beneficial factor for overall survival. Therefore, a second resection usually follows the administration of adjuvant chemotherapy. Second-look surgery appears to be associated with markedly decreased blood loss. Histological examination of specimens obtained at a second intervention shows decreased vascularity and fibrotic changes in tumor tissue. At the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, this empirical finding led to the strategy of neoadjuvant chemotherapy to minimize blood loss and maximize cytoreduction. The authors undertook this study to assess the potentially beneficial effect of neoadjuvant chemotherapy on blood loss during surgery for CPCs.


In this retrospective cohort review, the demographic, clinical, and treatment parameters of 22 consecutive patients diagnosed with CPC are presented. All underwent surgical treatment at the Hospital for Sick Children from 1982 to 2013. Special attention was given to the impact of neoadjuvant chemotherapy on extent of resection and intraoperative blood loss. Extent of resection was calculated based on perioperative neuroimaging, and amount of blood loss was estimated based on transfusion parameters and perioperative changes in hematocrit.


Ten patients did not receive neoadjuvant chemotherapy, and 12 were treated with 2–5 cycles of ICE (ifosfamide, carboplatin, etoposide) chemotherapy in a neoadjuvant fashion. The 22 patients included in the study underwent a total of 37 tumor resection surgeries. In all of the cases in which neoadjuvant chemotherapy was used, at least a near-total resection (> 95% of tumor volume) was achieved. Patients who underwent gross-total resection had prolonged overall survival. Of the 37 resections, 18 were performed after chemotherapy. Mean blood loss in the neoadjuvant chemotherapy group was 22% of total estimated blood volume as opposed to 96% in patients without preoperative chemotherapy.


In children with CPC, the administration of neoadjuvant chemotherapy decreases intraoperative blood loss and increases extent of resection with a significant positive effect on overall survival.