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Antoinette A. Chan, Aubrey Lau, Andrea Pirzkall, Susan M. Chang, Lynn J. Verhey, David Larson, Michael W. McDermott, William P. Dillon, and Sarah J. Nelson

Object. The purpose of this study was to assess the differences in spatial extent and metabolic activity in a comparison of a radiosurgical target defined by conventional strategies that utilize the enhancing lesion and a metabolic lesion defined by proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) imaging. The authors evaluated whether these differences manifest themselves in the clinical outcome of patients and assessed the value of incorporating 1H-MRS imaging—derived spatial information into the treatment planning process for gamma knife surgery (GKS).

Methods. Twenty-six patients harboring Grade IV gliomas who had previously been treated with external-beam radiation therapy were evaluated by comparing the radiosurgically treated lesion volume with the volume of metabolically active tumor defined on 1H-MRS imaging. The cohort was evenly divided into two groups based on the percentage of overlap between the radiosurgical target and the metabolic lesion volumes. Patients with a percentage of overlap greater than 50% with respect to the metabolic lesion volume were classified as low risk and those with an overlap less than 50% were classified as high risk.

Kaplan—Meier estimators were calculated using time to progression and survival as dependent variables. The metabolite levels within the metabolic lesion were significantly greater than those within the radiosurgical target (p ≤ 0.001). The median survival was 15.7 months for patients in the low-risk group and 10.4 months for those in the highrisk group. This difference was statistically significant (p < 0.01).

Conclusions. Analysis of the results of this study indicates that patients undergoing GKS may benefit from the inclusion of 1H-MRS imaging in the treatment planning process.

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Charlie N. Nelson, Eva Dombi, Jared S. Rosenblum, Markku M. Miettinen, Tanya J. Lehky, Patricia O. Whitcomb, Christina Hayes, Gretchen Scott, Sarah Benzo, Brigitte C. Widemann, and Prashant Chittiboina


Patients with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) are predisposed to visceral neurofibromas, some of which can progress to premalignant atypical neurofibromas (ANFs) and malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs). Though subtotal resection of ANF may prevent malignant transformation and thus deaths with no neural complications, local recurrences require reoperation. The aim of this study was to assess the surgical morbidity associated with marginal resection of targeted ANF nodules identified via preoperative serial volumetric MRI and 18F-FDG-PET imaging.


The authors analyzed clinical outcomes of 16 NF resections of 21 tumors in 11 NF1 patients treated at the NIH Clinical Center between 2008 and 2018. Preoperative volumetric growth rates and 18F-FDG-PET SUVMax (maximum standardized uptake value within the tumor) of the target lesions and any electromyographic or nerve conduction velocity abnormalities of the parent nerves were measured and assessed in tandem with postoperative complications, histopathological classification of the resected tumors, and surgical margins through Dunnett’s multiple comparisons test and t-test. The surgical approach for safe marginal resection of ANF was also described.


Eleven consecutive NF1 patients (4 male, 7 female; median age 18.5 years) underwent 16 surgical procedures for marginal resections of 21 tumors. Preoperatively, 13 of the 14 (93%) sets of serial MRI studies and 10 of the 11 (91%) 18F-FDG-PET scans showed rapid growth (≥ 20% increase in volume per year) and avidity (SUVMax ≥ 3.5) of the identified tumor, respectively (median tumor size 48.7 cm3; median growth rate 92% per year; median SUVMax 6.45). Most surgeries (n = 14, 88%) resulted in no persistent postoperative parent nerve–related complications, and to date, none of the resected tumors have recurred. The median length of postoperative follow-up has been 2.45 years (range 0.00–10.39 years). Histopathological analysis confirmed significantly greater SUVMax among the ANFs (6.51 ± 0.83, p = 0.0042) and low-grade MPNSTs (13.8, p = 0.0001) than in benign neurofibromas (1.9).


This report evaluates the utility of serial imaging (MRI and 18F-FDG-PET SUVMax) to successfully detect ANF and demonstrates that safe, fascicle-sparing gross-total, extracapsular resection of ANF is possible with the use of intraoperative nerve stimulation and microdissection of nerve fascicles.

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Tracy R. McKnight, Kathleen R. Lamborn, Tonya D. Love, Mitchel S. Berger, Susan Chang, William P. Dillon, Andrew Bollen, and Sarah J. Nelson


The accurate diagnosis of World Health Organization Grades II and III gliomas is crucial for the effective treatment of patients with such lesions. Increased cell density and mitotic activity are histological features that distinguish Grade III from Grade II gliomas. Because increased cellular proliferation and density both contribute to the in vivo magnetic resonance (MR) spectroscopic peak corresponding to choline-containing compounds (Cho), the authors hypothesized that multivoxel MR spectroscopy might help identify the tumor regions with the most aggressive growth characteristics, which would be optimal locations for biopsy. They investigated the ability to use one or more MR spectroscopic parameters to predict the MIB-1 cell proliferation index (PI), the terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase–mediated deoxyuridine triphosphate nick-end labeling cell death index (DI), the cell density, and the ratio of proliferation to cell death (PI/DI) within different regions of the same tumor.


Patients with presumed Grades II or III glioma underwent 3D MR spectroscopic imaging prior to surgery, and two or three regions within the tumor were targeted for biopsy retrieval based on their spectroscopic features. Biopsy specimens were extracted from the tumor during image-guided resection, and the PI, DI, and cell density were assessed in the specimens using immunohistochemical methods.


The authors found that the relative levels of Cho and N-acetylaspartate (NAA) correlated with the cell density, PI, and PI/DI ratio within different regions of the same tumor and that the association held for the subpopulation of nonenhancing tumors. The association was stronger in tumors with large ranges of Cho/NAA values, irrespective of the presence of contrast enhancement. The findings demonstrate the validity of using MR spectroscopy to identify regions of aggressive growth in presumed Grade II or III gliomas that would be suitable targets for retrieving diagnostic biopsy specimens.

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Tracy R. McKnight, Mary H. von dem Bussche, Daniel B. Vigneron, Ying Lu, Mitchel S. Berger, Michael W. McDermott, William P. Dillon, Edward E. Graves, Andrea Pirzkall, and Sarah J. Nelson

Object. Data obtained preoperatively from three-dimensional (3D)/proton magnetic resonance (MR) spectroscopy were compared with the results of histopathological assays of tissue biopsies obtained during surgery to verify the sensitivity and specificity of a choline-containing compound—N-acetylaspartate index (CNI) used to distinguish tumor from nontumorous tissue within T2 hyperintense and contrast-enhancing lesions of patients with untreated gliomas. The information gleaned from the biopsy correlation study was used to test the hypothesis that there is metabolically active tumor in nonenhancing regions of the T2-hyperintense lesion that can be detected using MR spectroscopy.

Methods. Patients suspected of harboring a glioma underwent 3D MR spectroscopy during their preoperative MR imaging examination. Surgical navigation techniques were used to record the location of tissue biopsies collected during open resection of the tumor. A receiver operating curve analysis of the CNI and histological characteristics of specimens at each biopsy location was performed to determine the optimal threshold of the CNI required to separate tumor from nontumorous tissue. Histograms of the CNIs within enhancing and nonenhancing regions of lesions appearing on MR images were generated to determine the spatial distribution of CNIs consistent with tumor.

Conclusions. Biopsy samples containing tumor were distinguished from those containing a mixture of normal, edematous, gliotic, and necrotic tissue with 90% sensitivity and 86% specificity by using a CNI threshold of 2.5. The CNIs of nontumorous specimens were significantly different from those of biopsy specimens containing Grade II (p < 0.03), Grade III (p < 0.005), and Grade IV (p < 0.01) tumors. On average, one third to one half of the T2-hyperintense lesion outside the contrast-enhancing lesion contained CNI greater than 2.5.

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Lawrence L. Wald, Sarah J. Nelson, Mark R. Day, Susan E. Noworolski, Roland G. Henry, Steven L. Huhn, Susan Chang, Michael D. Prados, Penny K. Sneed, David A. Larson, William M. Wara, Michael McDermott, William P. Dillon, Phillip H. Gutin, and Daniel B. Vigneron

✓ The utility of three-dimensional (3-D) proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS) imaging for detecting metabolic changes after brain tumor therapy was assessed in a serial study of 58 total examinations of 12 patients with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) who received brachytherapy.

Individual proton spectra from the 3-D array of spectra encompassing the lesion showed dramatic differences in spectral patterns indicative of radiation necrosis, recurrent or residual tumor, or normal brain. The 1H-MRS imaging data demonstrated significant differences between suspected residual or recurrent tumor and contrast-enhancing radiation-induced necrosis. Regions of abnormally high choline (Cho) levels, consistent with viable tumor, were detected beyond the regions of contrast enhancement for all 12 gliomas.

Changes in the serial 1H-MRS imaging data were observed, reflecting an altered metabolism following treatment. These changes included the significant reduction in Cho levels after therapy, indicating the transformation of tumor to necrotic tissue. For patients who demonstrated subsequent clinical progression, an increase in Cho levels was observed in regions that previously appeared either normal or necrotic. Several patients showed regional variations in response to brachytherapy as evaluated by 1H-MRS imaging.

This study demonstrates the potential of noninvasive 3-D 1H-MRS imaging to discriminate between the formation of contrast-enhancing radiation necrosis and residual or recurrent tumor following brachytherapy. This modality may also allow better definition of tumor extent prior to brachytherapy by detecting the presence of abnormal metabolite levels in nonenhancing regions of solid tumor.