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S. Jared Broadway, Robert J. Ogg, Matthew A. Scoggins, Robert Sanford, Zoltan Patay and Frederick A. Boop

Object

Thalamopeduncular tumors arise at the junction of the inferior thalamus and cerebral peduncle and present with a common clinical syndrome of progressive spastic hemiparesis. Pathologically, these lesions are usually juvenile pilocytic astrocytomas and are best treated with resection with the intent to cure. The goals of this study are to define a common clinical syndrome produced by thalamopeduncular tumors and to discuss imaging characteristics as well as surgical adjuncts, intraoperative nuances, and postoperative complications relating to the resection of these neoplasms.

Methods

The authors present a retrospective review of their experience with 10 children presenting between 3 and 15 years of age with a thalamopeduncular syndrome. Formal preoperative MR imaging was obtained in all patients, and diffusion tensor (DT) imaging was performed in 9 patients. Postoperative MR imaging was obtained to evaluate the extent of tumor resection. A prospective analysis of clinical outcomes was then conducted by the senior author.

Results

Pilocytic astrocytoma was the pathological diagnosis in 9 cases, and the other was fibrillary astrocytoma. Seven of 9 pilocytic astrocytomas were completely resected. Radical surgery was avoided in 1 child after DT imaging revealed that the corticospinal tract (CST) coursed through the center of the tumor, consistent with the infiltrative nature of fibrillary astrocytoma as identified by stereotactic biopsy. In 8 patients, tractography served as an important adjunct for designing a surgical approach that spared the CST. In 6 cases the CSTs were pushed anterolaterally, making a transsylvian approach a poor choice, as was evidenced by the first patient in the series, who underwent operation prior to the advent of tractography, and who awoke with a dense contralateral hemiparesis. Thus, subsequent patients with this deviation pattern underwent a transcortical approach via the middle temporal gyrus. One patient exhibited medial deviation of the tracts and another had lateral deviation, facilitating a transtemporal and a transfrontal approach, respectively.

Conclusions

The thalamopeduncular syndrome of progressive spastic hemiparesis presenting in children with or without symptoms of headache should alert the examiner to the possibility of a tumoral involvement of CSTs. Preoperative tractography is a useful adjunct to surgical planning in tumors that displace motor pathways. Gross-total resection of pilocytic astrocytomas usually results in cure, and therefore should be entertained when developing a treatment strategy for thalamopeduncular tumors of childhood.

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David S. Hersh, Rahul Kumar, Kenneth A. Moore, Luke G. F. Smith, Christopher L. Tinkle, Jason Chiang, Zoltan Patay, Amar Gajjar, Asim F. Choudhri, Jorge A. Lee-Diaz, Brandy Vaughn and Paul Klimo Jr.

OBJECTIVE

Biopsies of brainstem lesions are performed to establish a diagnosis in the setting of an atypical clinical or radiological presentation, or to facilitate molecular studies. A better understanding of the safety and diagnostic yield of brainstem biopsies would help guide appropriate patient selection.

METHODS

All patients who underwent biopsy of a brainstem lesion during the period from January 2011 to June 2019 were reviewed. Demographic, radiological, surgical, and outcome data were collected.

RESULTS

A total of 58 patients underwent 65 brainstem biopsies during the study period. Overall, the median age was 7.6 years (IQR 3.9–14.2 years). Twenty-two of the 65 biopsies (34%) were open, 42 (65%) were stereotactic, and 1 was endoscopic. In 3 cases (5%), a ventriculoperitoneal shunt was placed, and in 9 cases (14%), a posterior fossa decompression was performed during the same operative session as the biopsy. An intraoperative MRI (iMRI) was performed in 28 cases (43%). In 3 of these cases (11%), the biopsy was off target and additional samples were obtained during the same procedure. New neurological deficits were noted in 5 cases (8%), including sensory deficits, ophthalmoparesis/nystagmus, facial weakness, and hearing loss; these deficits persisted in 2 cases and were transient in 3 cases. A pseudomeningocele occurred in 1 patient; no patients developed a CSF leak or infection. In 8 cases (13%) an additional procedure was needed to obtain a diagnosis.

CONCLUSIONS

Brainstem biopsies are safe and effective. Target selection and approach should be a collaborative effort. iMRI can be used to assess biopsy accuracy in real time, thereby allowing any adjustment if necessary.