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Emily L. Day and R. Michael Scott


The authors sought to evaluate the utility of intraoperative MRI (ioMRI) during brain tumor excision in pediatric patients and to suggest guidelines for its future use.


All patients who underwent brain tumor surgery by the senior author at Boston Children’s Hospital using ioMRI between 2005 and 2009 were included in this retrospective review of hospital records and the neurosurgeon’s operative database. Prior to the review, the authors defined the utility of ioMRI into useful and not useful categories based on how the technology affected operative management. They determined that ioMRI was useful if it 1) effectively guided the extent of resection; 2) provided a baseline postoperative scan during the same anesthesia session; or 3) demonstrated or helped to prevent an intraoperative complication. The authors determined that ioMRI was not useful if 1) the anatomical location of the tumor had precluded a tumor’s total resection, even though the surgeon had employed ioMRI for that purpose; 2) the tumor’s imaging characteristics prevented an accurate assessment of resection during intraoperative imaging; 3) the surgeon deemed the technology not required for tumor resection; or 4) the intraoperative MR images were uninterpretable for technical reasons. Follow-up data provided another gauge of the long-term benefit of ioMRI to the patient.


A total of 53 brain tumor patients were operated on using ioMRI, 6 of whom had a second ioMRI procedure during the study period. Twenty-six patients were female, and 27 were male. The mean follow-up was 4.8 ± 3.85 years (range 0–12 years). By the criteria outlined above, ioMRI technology was useful in 38 (64.4%) of the 59 cases, most frequently for its help in assessing extent of resection.


Intraoperative MRI technology was useful in the majority of brain tumor resections in this series, especially in those tumors that were contrast enhancing and located largely within accessible areas of the brain. The percentage of patients for whom ioMRI is useful could be increased by preoperatively evaluating the tumor’s imaging characteristics to determine if ioMRI would accurately assess the extent of tumor resection, and by the surgeon’s preoperative understanding that use of the ioMRI will not lead to resection of an anatomically unresectable tumor. The ioMRI can prove useful in unresectable tumors if specific operative goals are defined preoperatively.