Recent studies have indicated that a signal intensity increase of the fluid within the resection cavity on FLAIR images may predict tumor recurrence after glioma surgery. The aim of this study was to assess the increase in FLAIR signal intensity in a large patient cohort and in subgroups to assess its prognostic value for early tumor recurrence in glioma patients.
A total of 212 patients (213 cases) who had undergone surgery for an intracranial glioma (WHO Grade IV [n = 103], WHO Grade III [n = 57], and WHO Grade II [n = 53]) were included in this retrospective study. FLAIR signal within the resection cavity at the time of tumor recurrence/last contact and on the previous MRI study was assessed qualitatively and quantitatively. Appearance of FLAIR signal increase was studied over time using Kaplan-Meier estimates in subgroups.
Patients with WHO Grade II glioma and connection of the resection cavity to CSF who did not undergo radiotherapy did not regularly develop this sign and were excluded from further analysis. For the remaining 87 cases, FLAIR signal intensity increase was observed in 27 cases. Recurrent disease was found in 26 of these 27 cases, resulting in a specificity of 80.0%, a sensitivity of 31.7%, and positive and negative predictive values of 96.3% and 6.7%, respectively. In 4 cases this sign had been observed prior (range 2.8–8.5 months) to tumor recurrence defined by standard criteria. Quantitative analysis underlined the results of qualitative analysis, but it did not add a diagnostic value.
Signal intensity increase of the fluid within the resection cavity on FLAIR images is a rare but highly specific and early sign for tumor recurrence/tumor progression in completely and incompletely resected high-grade glioma without connection of the resection cavity to CSF and with radiotherapy.