Cervicomedullary astrocytomas of childhood: clinical and imaging follow-up
Background. Cervicomedullary astrocytomas are a unique subset of brainstem tumors in children because they have a good prognosis when compared to the pontine subset of brainstem gliomas. Objective. To review the clinical and imaging findings in a series of children with cervicomedullary astrocytomas as to diagnosis and management. Materials and methods. A retrospective review of eleven children (six females, five males, age range: 10 days-18 years; mean = 7 years) with cervicomedullary tumors was done including the clinical presentation, imaging studies (MR: eleven, CT and MR: four), surgical findings, pathological results, and follow-up clinical and imaging findings (range: 0.2–11 years; mean = 5.2 years). Results. Symptoms and signs were delayed and protracted, often occurring over months to years (mean = 2.3 years, range 0.5–7 years). The tumors expanded the dorsal medulla and involved the upper cervical spinal cord (mean maximum tumor diameter = 4.4 cm). Only three patients had hydrocephalus. In three of four cases the tumor was not seen on CT. On MR, the majority of the tumors were T1 hypointense and T2 hyperintense. Treatment consisted of surgery only in six patients, surgery and radiation therapy in four, and surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation in one. There was recurrent local disease in four patients and on follow-up metastatic disease in the brain in one. On follow-up the majority of the patients are alive and stable (mean = 5.2 years, range 0.2–11 years). There has been one death. The majority of tumors were pilocytic astrocytomas. Conclusion. Cervicomedullary tumors are a unique subset of brainstem gliomas in childhood that present with a long duration of symptoms and a greater long-term survival than pontine gliomas.
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