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Roger J. Packer

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Jacques Grill, Delphine Viguier, Virginie Kieffer, Christine Bulteau, Christian Sainte-Rose, Olivier Hartmann, Chantal Kalifa and Georges Dellatolas

Object. Intellectual impairment is a major concern after treatment of malignant posterior fossa tumors in children. The effects of age at diagnosis and radiotherapy have been widely documented. Little is known, however, about perioperative factors, especially neurological damage to the cerebellum, the role of which in cognition and learning has been recently indicated. The authors studied the effects in 76 children treated for a malignant posterior fossa tumor in a cross-sectional study.

Methods. Two thirds of the tumors were medulloblastoma. Neuropsychological evaluation was performed at least 6 months after the end of treatment, and findings were correlated with clinical risk factors for intellectual impairment.

The mean verbal intelligence quotient (VIQ) score was 87 ± 19 (± standard deviation) and the mean performance IQ (PIQ) score was 76 ± 17.5. A single neuropsychological test measuring hand skills (the Purdue Pegboard) was the strongest predictor of low IQ scores including items testing higher cognitive functions. A low VIQ was associated with impaired hand skills (p < 0.0001) and the presence of preoperative hydrocephalus (p = 0.02), whereas a low PIQ was associated with impaired hand skills (p < 0.0001) and incision of the vermis (p = 0.02). Impaired hand skills were associated with postoperative cerebellar mutism, oculomotor deficits, cerebellar syndrome, and therapeutic requirements.

Conclusions. When treatment schedules are adapted to risk of disease and age, surgery-related risk factors then become critical for predicting intellectual impairment. Children with cerebellar damage are particularly at risk for long-term neuropsychological dysfunction and require active rehabilitation measures. Reducing surgery-related morbidity should be the next goal to reduce posterior fossa surgery—specific deficits.

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Jacques Grill, Arielle Lellouch-Tubiana, Selma Elouahdani, Alain Pierre-Kahn, Michel Zerah, Dominique Renier, Dominique Valteau-Couanet, Olivier Hartmann, Chantal Kalifa and Christian Sainte-Rose

Object

The authors set out to evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of preoperative chemotherapy in treating high-risk medulloblastomas.

Methods

Between 1997 and 2000, 21 children with high-risk medulloblastomas (M ≥ 2 and/or T3b/T4 according to the Chang classification) were treated consecutively in a pilot study. The protocol began with treatment of the hydrocephalus and confirmation of the diagnosis. Tumor surgery was performed either after conventional chemotherapy (eight patients) or after subsequent high-dose chemotherapy (HDCT; 11 patients). Two children with early leptomeningeal progression died before surgery. Craniospinal irradiation was applied to children older than 5 years of age, whereas younger children received local irradiation only.

Hydrocephalus was present in 17 children and was treated with ventriculocisternostomy in 13 and shunt insertion in four. A biopsy procedure was performed with a stereotactic frame in 10 children, an open surgery was performed in four, an endoscope was used during the ventriculocisternostomy in three, and the diagnosis was made based on cerebrospinal fluid cytological analysis in two. The response rate to the first two courses of chemotherapy was 71% for the tumor and 59% for the metastases. The pathological analysis of the residue after chemotherapy showed true medulloblastomas in seven cases, complete neuroglial maturation in three cases, and a mixture of both in nine cases. Three-year progressionfree survival was 37% and was significantly better in children older than 5 years of age. There was one death related to the HDCT.

Conclusions

Preoperative chemotherapy is feasible and safe in children with high-risk medulloblastomas provided that the hydrocephalus can be treated at diagnosis. A larger study is warranted to ensure that the high response rate to adjuvant chemotherapy can lead to better surgical results and survival advantage.

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Stéphanie Puget, Matthew Garnett, Alison Wray, Jacques Grill, Jean-Louis Habrand, Nathalie Bodaert, Michel Zerah, Mercia Bezerra, Dominique Renier, Alain Pierre-Kahn and Christian Sainte-Rose

Object

The current treatment of craniopharyngiomas is evolving into one of a multimodal approach in which the aim is disease control and improved preservation of quality of life (QOL). To date, an appropriate classification system with which to individualize treatment is absent. The objectives of this study were to identify preoperative prognostic factors in patients with craniopharyngiomas and to develop a risk-based treatment algorithm.

Methods

The authors reviewed data obtained in a retrospective cohort of 66 children (mean age 7.4 years, mean follow-up period 7 years) who underwent resection between 1984 and 2001. Postoperative recurrence rates, vision status, and endocrine function were consistent with those reported in the literature. The postoperative morbidity was related to hypothalamic dysfunction. The preoperative magnetic resonance imaging grade, clinically assessed hypothalamic function, and the sugeon's operative experience (p = 0.007, p = 0.047, p = 0.035, respectively) significantly predicted poor outcome. Preoperative hypothalamic grading was used in a prospective cohort of 22 children (mean age 8 years, mean follow-up period 1.2 years) treated between 2002 and 2004 to stratify patients according to whether they underwent gross-total resection (GTR) (20%), complete resection avoiding the hypothalamus (40%), or subtotal resection (STR) (40%). In cases in which residual disease was present, the patient underwent radiotherapy. There have been no new cases of postoperative hyperphagia, morbid obesity, or behavioral dysfunction in this prospective cohort.

Conclusions

For many children with craniopharyngiomas, the cost of resection is hypothalamic dysfunction and a poor QOL. By using a preoperative classification system to grade hypothalamic involvement and stratify treatment, the authors were able to minimize devastating morbidity. This was achieved by identifying subgroups in which complete resection or STR, performed by an experienced craniopharyngioma surgeon and with postoperative radiotherapy when necessary, yielded better overall results than the traditional GTR.

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Bertrand Baussard, Federico Di Rocco, Matthew R. Garnett, Nathalie Boddaert, Arielle Lellouch-Tubiana, Jacques Grill, Stephanie Puget, Thomas Roujeau, Michel Zerah and Christian Sainte-Rose

Object

The aim of this study was to retrospectively review the clinical presentation, the roles of surgery and adjuvant therapy, and the treatment-related morbidity in children with a ganglioglioma in the posterior fossa and to try and determine the prognostic factors.

Methods

Between 1991 and 2006, 10 children were treated for a posterior fossa ganglioglioma at the authors' institution. The mean age of the children, the duration of symptoms prior to diagnosis, and the follow-up were 8.2, 2.4, and 3.9 years, respectively. Nine of the children presented with symptoms of raised intracranial pressure. Preoperative imaging showed enhancement in all patients; in eight it was in a patchy distribution. The operations consisted of radical resection (> 75%) in seven children, biopsy in two, and a total macroscopic excision in one.

Results

The surgical procedure did not cause deterioration in the neurological condition in any of the children. There was no recurrence in the child who underwent total macroscopic excision of the tumor, and there has been no tumor progression in three children, two of whom have had no evidence of enhancement of the postoperative residual tumor. The tumor has progressed in six children, requiring further surgery in three, chemotherapy in four, and radiotherapy and second-line chemotherapy in one child to control the tumor.

Conclusions

The imaging of gangliogliomas in the posterior fossa showed patchy enhancement. The patients in whom it was possible to achieve a radical resection, aimed at removing at least the enhancing portion of the tumor, have not required further treatment. A second excision, for progressive tumors, is an effective adjuvant therapy.

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Thomas Roujeau, Guilherme Machado, Matthew R. Garnett, Catherine Miquel, Stephanie Puget, Birgit Geoerger, Jacques Grill, Nathalie Boddaert, Federico Di Rocco, Michel Zerah and Christian Sainte-Rose

Object

Empirical radiotherapy is the current treatment for children with diffuse pontine lesions that have imaging characteristics of an infiltrative malignant astrocytoma. The use of chemotherapeutic agents is, however, currently under investigation in the treatment of these tumors. To be included into a trial, patients need a definitive histological diagnosis. The authors present their prospective study of the stereotactic biopsy of these lesions during a 4-year period.

Methods

A suboccipital, transcerebellar approach was used to obtain biopsy samples in 24 children.

Results

Two patients suffered deficits. Both had a transient (< 2 months) new cranial nerve palsy; one of these patients also experienced an exacerbation of a preoperative hemiparesis. No patient died during the perioperative period. A histological diagnosis was made in all 24 patients as follows: 22 had a malignant infiltrative astrocytoma, one had a low-grade astrocytoma, and one had a pilocytic astrocytoma. The diagnosis of the latter two patients affected the initial treatment after the biopsy.

Conclusions

The findings of this study imply that stereotactic biopsy sampling of a diffuse pontine tumor is a safe procedure, is associated with minimal morbidity, and has a high diagnostic yield. A nonmalignant tumor was identified in two of the 24 patients in whom the imaging findings were characteristic of a malignant infiltrative astrocytoma. With the advent of new treatment protocols, stereotactic biopsy sampling, which would allow specific tumor characterization of diffuse pontine lesions, may become standard.

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Forniceal glioma in children

Clinical article

Thomas Blauwblomme, Pascale Varlet, John R. Goodden, Marie Laure Cuny, Helene Piana, Thomas Roujeau, Federico DiRocco, Jacques Grill, Virginie Kieffer, Nathalie Boddaert, Christian Sainte-Rose and Stéphanie Puget

Object

Five to ten percent of pediatric brain tumors are located in the ventricles. Among them, forniceal lesions are rare and their management has not often been described. The aim of this study was to review the clinical, radiological, and histopathological features as well as the feasibility of surgical excision and the outcomes in these patients.

Methods

From a retrospective analysis of 250 cases of supratentorial pediatric glioma, the records of 8 children presenting with forniceal lesions were selected and reviewed.

Results

The median age of patients in the cohort was 13.5 years. Presenting features included intracranial hypertension (7 cases), hypothalamic dysfunction (2), and memory dysfunction (3). Complete resection was possible in only 1 case, where the lesion was mainly exophytic; the remaining patients had either a partial resection or biopsy. On histological review, the tumors were confirmed as pilocytic astrocytoma (4 lesions), WHO Grade II astrocytoma (3), and ganglioglioma (1). Postoperatively, working and retrograde memory was normal for all patients, but the authors found a mild alteration in verbal episodic memory in 5 patients. Despite fatigability for 5 patients, academic achievement was normal for all but 2, both of whom had preoperative school difficulties. Additional treatment was required for 5 patients for tumor progression, with a median interval of 19 months from surgery. At a median follow-up duration of 4.9 years, all patients had stable disease.

Conclusions

In this series, forniceal gliomas were found to be low-grade gliomas. They are surgically challenging, and only exophytic lesions may be cured surgically. Due to the high rate of progression of residual disease, adjuvant therapy is recommended for infiltrative tumors, and it yielded excellent results.

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Stephanie Puget, Darach W. Crimmins, Matthew R. Garnett, Jacques Grill, Ricardo Oliveira, Nathalie Boddaert, Alison Wray, Arielle Lelouch-Tubiana, Thomas Roujeau, Federico Di Rocco, Michel Zerah and Christian Sainte-Rose

Object

Two to five percent of pediatric brain tumors are located in the thalamus. The optimal management for these tumors remains unclear. The aim of this study was to determine whether clinical and neuroimaging features could guide treatment, and to what extent these features, together with histological diagnosis and treatment modalities, influenced survival.

Methods

The records of 69 children who presented with a thalamic tumor between 1989 and 2003 were retrospectively reviewed. Three groups of tumors were analyzed separately: 1) unilateral thalamic tumors (54 lesions); 2) thalamopeduncular tumors (six); and 3) bilateral thalamic tumors (nine).

In the patients in whom a unilateral thalamic tumor was diagnosed, 33 had an astrocytic tumor. Of the 54 patients, 32 had a low-grade and 22 had a high-grade tumor. The survival rate was significantly better for patients with the following characteristics: symptom duration longer than 2 months (p < 0.001), lesions with low-grade histological features (p = 0.003), and tumor excision greater than 90% at surgery (p = 0.04). The perioperative morbidity and mortality rates were 37 and 4%, respectively. Fifty-four percent of the patients in this group had a long-term and independent survival. The thalamopeduncular tumors were mostly pilocytic astrocytomas, which had a good prognosis following surgery. The bilateral thalamic tumors in this series were mainly low-grade astrocytic lesions, and more than half of the children attained long-term survival (mean follow-up duration 4.5 years).

Conclusions

The majority of tumors arising in the thalamus are astrocytic, of which less than half are high-grade lesions. Histological evaluations should be performed in all patients in whom resection is being considered for discrete lesions. Long-term survival is possible in patients with these tumors.

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Clemens M. F. Dirven, Jacques Grill, Martine L. M. Lamfers, Paul van der Valk, Angelique M. Leonhart, Victor W. van Beusechem, Hidde J. Haisma, Herbert M. Pinedo, David T. Curiel, W. Peter Vandertop and Winald R. Gerritsen

Object. Due to their surgical inaccessibility or aggressive behavior, some meningiomas cannot be cured with current treatment strategies. Gene therapy is an emerging strategy for the treatment of brain tumors, which the authors investigated to determine whether adenoviruses could be used for gene transfer in meningioma cells.

Methods. The presence of the high-affinity Coxsackievirus and adenovirus receptor (CAR) for adenovirus type 5, as well as endothelial growth factor receptor (EGFR) and alphav integrins (ITGAVs), were analyzed in primary tumors by using immunohistochemical studies and in primary meningioma cell cultures by using fluorescence-activated cell sorting. Targeting of adenoviruses to EGFR was achieved using bispecific antibodies, whereas targeting of adenoviruses to the ITGAVs was accomplished by insertion of an RGD (arginine-glycine-aspartic acid) motif in the adenovirus fiber HI loop. Gene transfer efficiency of untargeted and targeted vectors was compared in primary cell cultures and in spheroids derived from patients' resected tumor material.

The presence of CARs was observed in all tumors and in all but one of the derived primary meningioma cells. The higher expression of EGFRs and ITGAVs indicated that these receptors could be used as alternative targets to redirect the adenoviruses. Redirection of adenoviruses to the EGFRs or integrins enhanced gene transfer threefold (range two—sevenfold) for EGFRs in primary meningioma cells and ninefold (range three—23-fold) for integrins (p = 0.002, analysis of variance). The effect of adenovirus targeting was confirmed in spheroids composed of primary meningioma cells.

Conclusions. Gene transfer with adenoviruses targeted to tumor-specific receptors is very effective in primary meningioma cells and spheroids. These vectors are promising agents for gene therapy of meningiomas.

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Maria-Jesus Lobon-Iglesias, Vicente Santa-Maria Lopez, Patricia Puerta Roldan, Santiago Candela-Cantó, Monica Ramos-Albiac, Marta Gomez-Chiari, Stephanie Puget, Stephanie Bolle, Liliana Goumnerova, Mark W. Kieran, Ofelia Cruz, Jacques Grill and Andres Morales La Madrid

OBJECTIVE

Diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) is a highly aggressive and lethal brainstem tumor in children. In the 1980s, routine biopsy at presentation was abandoned since it was claimed “unnecessary” for diagnosis. In the last decade, however, several groups have reincorporated this procedure as standard of care or in the context of clinical trials. Expert neurosurgical teams report no mortality and acceptable morbidity, and no relevant complications have been previously described. The aim of this study was to review needle tract dissemination as a potential complication in DIPG.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively analyzed the incidence of dissemination through surgical tracts in DIPG patients who underwent biopsy procedures at diagnosis in 3 dedicated centers. Clinical records and images as well as radiation dosimetry from diagnosis to relapse were reviewed.

RESULTS

Four patients (2 boys and 2 girls, age range 6–12 years) had surgical tract dissemination: in 3 cases in the needle tract and in 1 case in the Ommaya catheter tract. The median time from biopsy to identification of dissemination was 5 months (range 4–6 months). The median overall survival was 11 months (range 7–12 months). Disseminated lesions were in the marginal radiotherapy field (n = 2), out of the field (n = 1), and in the radiotherapy field (n = 1).

CONCLUSIONS

Although surgical tract dissemination in DIPG is a rare complication (associated with 2.4% of procedures in this study), it should be mentioned to patients and family when procedures involving a surgical tract are proposed. The inclusion of the needle tract in the radiotherapy field may have only limited benefit. Future studies are warranted to explore the benefit of larger radiotherapy fields in patients with DIPG.