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G. Evren Keles, Kathleen R. Lamborn and Mitchel S. Berger

Object. The goal of this study was to perform a critical review of literature pertinent to low-grade gliomas of the cerebral hemisphere in adults and, on the basis of this review, to evaluate systematically the prognostic effect of extent of resection on survival and to determine if treatment-related guidelines could be established for patients in whom these tumors have been newly diagnosed. Quality of evidence for current treatment options, guidelines, and standards as well as methodological limitations were evaluated.

Methods. Several prognostic factors thought to affect outcome in patients with low-grade gliomas include the patient's age and neurological status, tumor volume and histological characteristics, and treatment-related variables such as timing of surgical intervention, extent of resection, postoperative tumor volume, and radiation therapy. Patient age and the histological characteristics of the lesion are generally accepted prognostic factors. Among treatment-related factors, timing and extent of resection are controversial because of the lack of randomized controlled trials addressing these issues and the difficulty in obtaining information from available studies that have methodological limitations.

All English-language studies on low-grade gliomas published between January 1970 and April 2000 were reviewed. Thirty studies that included statistical analyses were further evaluated with regard to the prognostic effect of extent of resection. Of these 30 studies, those that included pediatric patients, unless adults were analyzed separately, were excluded from further study because of the favorable outcome associated with the pediatric age group. Also excluded were studies including pilocytic and gemistocytic astrocytomas, because the natural histories of these histological subtypes are significantly different from that of low-grade gliomas. Series in which there were small numbers of patients (< 75) were also excluded. Results for oligodendrogliomas are reported separately.

Currently, for patients with low-grade glial tumors located in the cerebral hemisphere, the only management standard based on high-quality evidence is tissue diagnosis. All other treatment methods are practice options supported by evidence that is inconclusive or conflicting. The majority of published series that the authors identified had design-related limitations including a small study size, a small number of events (that is, deaths for survival studies), inclusion of pediatric patients, and/or inclusion of various histological types of tumors with different natural histories. Of the 30 series addressing the issue of timing and extent of surgery, almost all had additional design limitations. Methods used to determine the extent of resection were subjective and qualitative in almost all studies. Only five of the 30 series met the authors' criteria, and these studies are discussed in detail.

Conclusions. Management of low-grade gliomas is controversial and practice parameters are ill defined. This is caused by limited knowledge regarding the natural history of these tumors and the lack of high-quality evidence supporting various treatment options. Although a prospective randomized study seems unlikely, both retrospective matched studies and prospective observational trials will improve the clinician's ability to understand the importance of various prognostic factors.

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Edward R. Laws Jr.

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Arman Jahangiri, Kathleen R. Lamborn, Lewis Blevins, Sandeep Kunwar and Manish K. Aghi


The duration of visual symptoms associated with a nonfunctioning pituitary adenoma (NFA) is a predictive factor for chances of visual improvement. The authors investigated factors associated with increased duration of visual symptoms in patients with NFAs.


The authors retrospectively reviewed NFAs resected at their institution between 2004 and 2010 for duration of visual symptoms, postoperative improvement, and associated factors.


Seventy-five patients underwent NFA resection with a median visual symptom duration of 6.5 months (range 1 week–15 years). A multivariate logistic regression showed that duration of symptoms (p = 0.04), but not age at surgery (p = 0.2), predicted postoperative normalization of vision. Univariate nonparametric analyses investigating age at symptom onset, sex, race, insurance type, ophthalmological conditions, income, marital status, emergency department admission, language, and medical provider found that age was the only variable significantly prolonging symptom duration (p = 0.04), a finding confirmed by a multivariate regression analysis. Patients 20–39, 40–59, and 60–79 years old had median durations of symptoms of 4, 7, and 9 months, respectively. Seven older patients had symptoms attributed to preexisting ophthalmological conditions for a median of 18 months before NFA diagnosis. Among age and race subgroups, the largest difference in median symptom duration was between white patients in the 60–79-year age range (duration of 5 months) and nonwhite patients in the 60–79-year age range (duration of 24 months) (p = 0.04).


The authors found that older age was associated with delayed NFA diagnosis in visually impaired patients. Contributing factors were the attributing of visual symptoms from NFAs to other ophthalmological conditions in these patients, and delayed presentation in elderly nonwhite patients. These findings highlight challenges associated with timely NFA diagnosis in visually impaired patients, a key factor for chances of improvement.

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Kurtis I. Auguste, Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, Chirag Gadkary, Gabriel Zada, Kathleen R. Lamborn and Mitchel S. Berger

Object. Evidence-based reviews support the use of venous thromboembolism (VTE) prophylaxis in the form of compression devices and/or stockings for patients undergoing craniotomy. In patients undergoing craniotomy with motor mapping for glioma, the contralateral lower extremity should remain visible so that motor responses can be accurately identified. As a consequence, these patients could be placed at a higher risk to develop VTE. The authors have quantified the incidence of VTE in patients undergoing craniotomy with motor mapping and have shown that there is no increased risk of developing a VTE in the contralateral lower extremity when compression devices are not used.

Methods. One hundred eighty consecutive cases (1997–2000) of craniotomy with motor mapping for glioma were retrospectively reviewed to determine the incidence and location of VTEs during the early postoperative course. Intraoperative VTE prophylaxis in all patients consisted of ipsilateral (that is, ipsilateral to the hemisphere being mapped) lower-extremity mechanical prophylaxis (antiembolism stocking plus compression device). Postoperatively, all patients received bilateral mechanical prophylaxis. Patients were observed until discharge and received clinical follow up. Venous thromboembolism, classified as deep venous thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism (PE) occurring within 6 weeks postoperatively, was confirmed by Doppler ultrasonography, spiral computerized tomography scanning, or both. The average duration of postoperative hospitalization was 5 days (range 2–59 days). Six patients (3.3%) experienced VTE. Of those, in four (2.2%) the DVT was localized to the contralateral (three patients) or ipsilateral (one patient) lower extremity. Two other patients (1.1%) only had PE. There were no deaths from thromboembolic complications and no statistically significant predisposition to VTE in the contralateral lower extremity among patients not receiving intraoperative prophylaxis.

Conclusions. The incidence of VTE in patients undergoing craniotomy with motor mapping is comparable to that in patients receiving bilateral lower-extremity mechanical VTE prophylaxis. The practice of leaving the contralateral lower extremity free from intraoperative prophylaxis does not appear to place patients at a higher risk for developing VTE. There appears to be no preferential distribution of VTE in contralateral lower extremities that do not receive immediate preoperative and intraoperative mechanical prophylaxis.

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G. Evren Keles, Kathleen R. Lamborn, Susan M. Chang, Michael D. Prados and Mitchel S. Berger

Object. For patients with recurrent glioblastomas multiforme (GBMs) the prognosis is poor. Although chemotherapy may provide a survival advantage, the role of the extent of tumor resection, or the volume of the residual tumor at the time of recurrence, before instituting chemotherapy, is unclear. This study was designed to assess the response to chemotherapy based on the volume of residual disease (VRD) at the start of treatment in patients with recurrent GBMs. To accomplish this, the authors evaluated a homogeneous group of patients with recurrent GBMs who received the same chemotherapeutic agent.

Methods. One hundred nineteen adult patients with recurrent supratentorial GBMs received temozolomide chemotherapy at the time of tumor recurrence. In this cohort the authors analyzed the prognostic significance of volumetrically assessed tumor mass on time to tumor progression (TTP) and survival time (ST).

Multivariate analysis demonstrated that the VRD at the beginning of chemotherapy was a statistically significant predictor of both TTP (p < 0.0001) and ST (p < 0.006) when adjusted for the patient's age, performance score, and time from the initial diagnosis. Patients in whom the VRD was less than 10 cm3 at the start of chemotherapy had a 6-month progression-free survival rate of 32% compared with 8% for patients with a VRD between 10 and 15 cm3 and 3% for patients with a VRD larger than 15 cm3. Patients in whom the VRD was smaller than 10 cm3 had a 1-year survival rate of 37% compared with 9% for patients with a VRD between 10 and 15 cm3 and 18% for patients with a VRD larger than 15 cm3.

Conclusions. These data indicate that patients with recurrent GBMs who start chemotherapy with a smaller volume (< 10 cm3) of residual disease may have a more favorable response to chemotherapy and a more favorable outcome.

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Meic H. Schmidt, Mitchel S. Berger, Kathleen R. Lamborn, Ken Aldape, Michael W. McDermott, Michael D. Prados and Susan M. Chang

Object. Progression of infiltrative low-grade gliomas (LGGs) has been reported previously. The limitations of such studies include diverse histological grading systems, intervening therapy, and the lack of histological confirmation of malignant tumor progression. The aim of this study was to determine tumor progression in adult patients with an initial diagnosis of infiltrative LGG who subsequently underwent a repeated operation, but no other intervening therapy. The authors examined factors that may be associated with tumor progression.

Methods. The authors retrospectively reviewed a database of 300 patients with the initial diagnosis of LGG and who had been treated at their institution between 1990 and 2000. One hundred four of these patients had undergone a second surgery. Patients with infiltrative LGGs who had undergone two surgical procedures at least 3 months apart without intervening therapy were selected; the authors identified 40 patients who fit these criteria. Clinical, neuroimaging, and pathological data were centrally reviewed.

There were 29 men and 11 women in the study, whose median age was 35.5 years (range 23–48 years). At the time of the second surgery, 50% of patients had experienced tumor progression. Patients whose tumors had progressed had a longer median time to repeated operation (49 compared with 22.5 months). Patients who had undergone gross-total resection, as demonstrated on postoperative magnetic resonance images, had a median time to repeated operation of 49 compared with 25 and 24 months in patients who underwent subtotal resection and biopsy, respectively (p = 0.02). The extent of resection did not influence the likelihood of tumor progression (p > 0.3).

Conclusions. Fifty percent of patients with initially diagnosed infiltrative LGGs had tumor progression at the time of a repeated operation. A gross-total resection was associated with an increased time to repeated surgery. There was no statistically significant effect of gross-total resection as a predictor of tumor progression.

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Justin S. Smith, Ian F. Parney, Kathleen R. Lamborn, Michael W. McDermott, Penny K. Sneed and Susan M. Chang


This study was designed to assess the presentation, management, and outcome of cases involving patients who had a supratentorial glioma that subsequently progressed in the posterior fossa (PF).


The authors performed a retrospective chart review of adult patients treated between 1997 and 2005 for supratentorial gliomas that progressed in the PF. The 29 patients with PF progression in this study were relatively young (median age of 34 years at original presentation). Twenty of these patients presented with symptoms. The symptoms were typically nonspecific to this population, at times leading to delays in diagnosis. Overall, these symptoms resolved in eight patients (40%) and progressed or remained unchanged in 12 (60%). Patients treated with more than 5000 cGy of radiation administered to the PF were more likely to have symptom resolution than those who received any other form of treatment, including reduced doses of radiation (p = 0.004). The patients treated with higher doses also survived significantly longer after PF progression (univariate analysis, p = 0.01, and after adjusting for tumor grade, p = 0.04).


Patients with PF progression of supratentorial infiltrative gliomas may benefit from treatment, and the authors recommend more than 5000 cGy of radiation to the PF if prior radiotherapy ports and doses allow.

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G. Evren Keles, David A. Lundin, Kathleen R. Lamborn, Edward F. Chang, George Ojemann and Mitchel S. Berger

Object. Intraoperative stimulation mapping of subcortical white matter tracts during the resection of gliomas has become a valuable surgical adjunct that is used to reduce morbidity associated with tumor removal. The purpose of this retrospective analysis was to assess the morbidity and functional outcome associated with this method, thus allowing the surgeon to predict the likelihood of causing a temporary or permanent motor deficit.

Methods. In this study, the authors report their experience with intraoperative stimulation mapping to locate subcortical motor pathways in 294 patients who underwent surgery for hemispheric gliomas within or adjacent to the rolandic cortex. Data were collected regarding intraoperative cortical and subcortical stimulation mapping results, along with the patient's neurological status pre- and postoperatively. For patients in whom an additional motor deficit occurred postoperatively, its evolution was examined.

Of 294 patients, an additional postoperative motor deficit occurred in 60 (20.4%). Of those 60, 23 (38%) recovered to their preoperative baseline status within the 1st postoperative week. Another 12 (20%) recovered from their postoperative motor deficit by the end of the 4th postoperative week, and 11 more recovered to their baseline status by the end of the 3rd postoperative month. Thus, 46 (76.7%) of 60 patients with postoperative motor deficits regained their baseline function within the first 90 days after surgery. The remaining 14 patients (4.8% of the entire study population of 294) had a persistent motor deficit after 3 months. Patients whose subcortical pathways were identified with stimulation mapping were more prone to develop an additional (temporary or permanent) motor deficit than those in whom subcortical pathways could not be identified (27.5% compared with 13.1%, p = 0.003). This was also true when additional (permanent) motor deficits lasted more than 3 months (7.4% when subcortical pathways were found, compared with 2.1% when they were not found; p = 0.041).

Conclusions. In patients with gliomas that are located within or adjacent to the rolandic cortex and, thus, the descending motor tracts, stimulation mapping of subcortical pathways enables the surgeon to identify these descending motor pathways during tumor removal and to achieve an acceptable rate of permanent morbidity in these high-risk functional areas.

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Andrew T. Parsa, Scott Wachhorst, Kathleen R. Lamborn, Michael D. Prados, Michael W. McDermott, Mitchel S. Berger and Susan M. Chang

Object. The clinical outcome and treatment of adult patients with disseminated intracranial glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is unclear. The objective in the present study was to assess the prognostic significance of disseminated intracranial GBM in adults at presentation and at the time of tumor progression.

Methods. Clinical data from 1491 patients older than 17 years and harboring a GBM that had been diagnosed between 1988 and 1998 at the University of California at San Francisco neurooncology clinic were retrospectively reviewed. Dissemination of the GBM (126 patients) was determined based on Gd-enhanced magnetic resonance images. Classification of dissemination was as follows: Type I, single lesion with subependymal or subarachnoid spread; Type II, multifocal lesions without subependymal or subarachnoid spread; and Type III, multifocal lesions with subependymal or subarachnoid spread. Subgroups of patients were compared using Kaplan—Meier curves that depicted survival probability.

The median postprogression survival (PPS), defined according to neuroimaging demonstrated dissemination, was 37 weeks for Type I (23 patients), 25 weeks for Type II (50 patients), and 10 weeks for Type III spread (19 patients). Patients with dissemination at first tumor progression (52 patients) overall had a shorter PPS than those in a control group with local progression, after adjusting for age, Karnofsky Performance Scale score, and time from tumor diagnosis to its progression (311 patients). When analyzed according to tumor dissemination type, PPS was significantly shorter in patients with Type II (33 patients, p < 0.01) and Type III spread (11 patients, p < 0.01) but not in those with Type I spread (eight patients, p = 0.18).

Conclusions. Apparently, the presence of intracranial tumor dissemination on initial diagnosis does not in itself preclude aggressive treatment if a patient is otherwise well. A single focus of GBM that later demonstrates Type I dissemination on progression does not have a worse prognosis than a lesion that exhibits only local recurrence.

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Hangjun Ruan, Lily Hu, Jingli Wang, Tomoko Ozawa, Nader Sanai, Michael Zhang, Kathleen R. Lamborn and Dennis F. Deen


The presence of hypoxic cells in human brain tumors contributes to the resistance of these tumors to radiation therapy. However, because normal tissues are not hypoxic, the presence of hypoxic cells also provides the potential for designing cancer-specific gene therapy. Suicide genes can be expressed specifically in hypoxic conditions by hypoxia-responsive elements (HREs), which are activated through the transcriptional complex hypoxia-inducible factor–1 (HIF-1).


The authors have transfected the murine BAX–green fluorescent protein (GFP) fusion gene under the regulation of three copies of HRE into U-87 MG and U-251 MG cells and selected stably transfected clones. Even though BAX was expressed under both oxic and anoxic conditions in these clones, cell survival assays demonstrated increased cell killing under anoxic as compared with oxic conditions. Cells obtained from most of these clones did not grow in vivo, or the tumors exhibited highly variable growth rates. However, cells obtained from the U-251 MG clone A produced tumors that grew as well as tumors derived from parental cells, and examination of the tumor sections under fluorescent microscopy revealed GFP expression in localized regions. Western blot analyses confirmed an increased BAX expression in these tumors. Analysis of the results suggests that HRE-regulated BAX can be a promising tool to target hypoxic brain tumor cells. However, there are measurable levels of BAX-GFP expression in this three-copy HRE–mediated expression system under oxia, suggesting promoter leakage. In addition, most clones did not show significant induction of BAX-GFP under anoxia. Therefore, the parameters of this HRE-mediated expression system, including HRE copy number and the basal promoter, need to be optimized to produce preferential and predictable gene expression in hypoxic cells.