Reversible cerebral perfusion alterations in children with transient mutism after posterior fossa surgery
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Mutism is an infrequent and transitory complication observed following posterior fossa surgery. Patients become mute in the immediate postoperative period, with restoration of speech within a few weeks in the absence of additional neurological alterations. The anatomical structures thought to be involved are the connections between the cerebellar dentate nucleus, the ventrolateral nucleus of the contralateral thalamus and the supplementary motor area. In an attempt to understand the pathophysiology of this syndrome, and to depict the perfusion of different brain areas semiquantitatively, in two children who had become mute after posterior fossa surgery we performed a Tc99M-HM-PAO SPECT study during the period of mutism and again when normal speech had returned. In one patient, who had a left cerebellar astrocytoma, the SPECT study showed a marked reduction of cerebral perfusion in the right fronto-parietal region, and in the other, who had a medulloblastoma, a left fronto-temporo-parietal perfusion alteration was observed. When the patients regained normal speech, the follow-up SPECT studies revealed normalization of the cerebral perfusion. This study demonstrates the occurrence of a focal dysfunction of cerebral perfusion in children with cerebellar mutism after posterior fossa surgery. These observations are useful in extending our understanding of the pathophysiology of this postoperative clinical syndrome.
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