Child's Nervous System

, Volume 25, Issue 6, pp 677–681 | Cite as

Brainstem compression: a predictor of postoperative cerebellar mutism

  • H. J. McMillan
  • D. L. KeeneEmail author
  • M. A. Matzinger
  • M. Vassilyadi
  • M. Nzau
  • E. C. G. Ventureyra
Original Paper



Cerebellar mutism is a common complication of posterior fossa tumor resection. We observed marked, preoperative brainstem compression on MR imaging, among patients who developed postoperative mutism. This study was designed to investigate if an association was indeed present.

Materials and methods

Patients (18 months–18 years) undergoing resection of a midline, posterior fossa tumor were retrospectively reviewed. Demographic data, tumor pathology, mutism onset and duration, and postoperative complications were obtained from hospital records. Pre- and postoperative MR images were studied to assess tumor size and the severity of pons compression (an estimate of the mechanical and distortional forces imparted by the tumor).


Patients with mutism showed greater preoperative pons compression and a greater increase in postoperative pons diameter.


We predict that brainstem compression may represent white-matter injury from (1) surgical manipulation and traction, and (2) axonal damage caused by the release of the tumor’s compressive force and ensuing axon distortion and dysfunction. The results provide support that mutism may be largely caused by white-matter damage disrupted axon integrity and function.


Mutism Posterior fossa tumors Cerebellum Dysarthria Cerebellar neoplasm 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. J. McMillan
    • 1
  • D. L. Keene
    • 1
    Email author
  • M. A. Matzinger
    • 2
  • M. Vassilyadi
    • 3
  • M. Nzau
    • 3
  • E. C. G. Ventureyra
    • 3
  1. 1.Division of NeurologyChildren’s Hospital of Eastern OntarioOttawaCanada
  2. 2.Division of RadiologyChildren’s Hospital of Eastern OntarioOttawaCanada
  3. 3.Division of NeurosurgeryChildren’s Hospital of Eastern OntarioOttawaCanada

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