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Erin N. Kiehna, Jeffrey P. Blount, Catherine McClung Smith, Eylem Ocal, and Sandip Chatterjee

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Danil A. Kozyrev, Jehuda Soleman, Deki Tsering, Robert F. Keating, David S. Hersh, Frederick A. Boop, Pietro Spennato, Giuseppe Cinalli, Gianpiero Tamburrini, Ulrich-Wilhelm Thomale, Robert J. Bollo, Sandip Chatterjee, Harishchandra Lalgudi Srinivasan, Shlomi Constantini, and Jonathan Roth

OBJECTIVE

Widespread use of modern neuroimaging has led to a surge in diagnosing pediatric brain incidentalomas. Thalamic lesions have unique characteristics such as deep location, surgical complexity, and proximity to eloquent neuronal structures. Currently, the natural course of incidental thalamic lesions is unknown. Therefore, the authors present their experience in treating such lesions.

METHODS

A retrospective, international multicenter study was carried out in 8 tertiary pediatric centers from 5 countries. Patients were included if they had an incidental thalamic lesion suspected of being a tumor and were diagnosed before the age of 20 years. Treatment strategy, imaging characteristics, pathology, and the outcome of operated and unoperated cases were analyzed.

RESULTS

Overall, 58 children (23 females and 35 males) with a mean age of 10.8 ± 4.0 years were included. The two most common indications for imaging were nonspecific reasons (n = 19; e.g., research and developmental delay) and headache unrelated to small thalamic lesions (n = 14). Eleven patients (19%) underwent early surgery and 47 were followed, of whom 10 underwent surgery due to radiological changes at a mean of 11.4 ± 9.5 months after diagnosis. Of the 21 patients who underwent surgery, 9 patients underwent resection and 12 underwent biopsy. The two most frequent pathologies were pilocytic astrocytoma and WHO grade II astrocytoma (n = 6 and n = 5, respectively). Three lesions were high-grade gliomas.

CONCLUSIONS

The results of this study indicate that pediatric incidental thalamic lesions include both low- and high-grade tumors. Close and long-term radiological follow-up is warranted in patients who do not undergo immediate surgery, as tumor progression may occur.