Stereotactic biopsy of diffuse pontine lesions in children

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Object

Empirical radiotherapy is the current treatment for children with diffuse pontine lesions that have imaging characteristics of an infiltrative malignant astrocytoma. The use of chemotherapeutic agents is, however, currently under investigation in the treatment of these tumors. To be included into a trial, patients need a definitive histological diagnosis. The authors present their prospective study of the stereotactic biopsy of these lesions during a 4-year period.

Methods

A suboccipital, transcerebellar approach was used to obtain biopsy samples in 24 children.

Results

Two patients suffered deficits. Both had a transient (< 2 months) new cranial nerve palsy; one of these patients also experienced an exacerbation of a preoperative hemiparesis. No patient died during the perioperative period. A histological diagnosis was made in all 24 patients as follows: 22 had a malignant infiltrative astrocytoma, one had a low-grade astrocytoma, and one had a pilocytic astrocytoma. The diagnosis of the latter two patients affected the initial treatment after the biopsy.

Conclusions

The findings of this study imply that stereotactic biopsy sampling of a diffuse pontine tumor is a safe procedure, is associated with minimal morbidity, and has a high diagnostic yield. A nonmalignant tumor was identified in two of the 24 patients in whom the imaging findings were characteristic of a malignant infiltrative astrocytoma. With the advent of new treatment protocols, stereotactic biopsy sampling, which would allow specific tumor characterization of diffuse pontine lesions, may become standard.

Abbreviations used in this paper:

CT = computed tomography; MR = magnetic resonance; WHO = World Health Organization.

JNS + Pediatrics - 1 year subscription bundle (Individuals Only)

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JNS + Pediatrics + Spine - 1 year subscription bundle (Individuals Only)

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