Journal of Radiation Oncology

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 187–193 | Cite as

Musculoskeletal outcomes and the effect of radiation to the vertebral bodies on growth trajectories for long-term survivors of high-risk neuroblastoma

  • Matthew J. Ferris
  • Sibo Tian
  • Jeffrey M. Switchenko
  • Nicholas A. Madden
  • Bree R. Eaton
  • Natia Esiashvili
Original Research



Here, we report musculoskeletal outcomes and the impact of radiotherapy dose on vertebral body growth for an institutional series of long-term survivors of high-risk neuroblastoma.


We conducted a retrospective study of 23 patients who were disease-free and at least 36 months from the end of treatment. The patients were initially treated from July 2003 to May 2012. Patient records were reviewed for growth percentiles (obtained at approximately 6-month intervals from onset of treatment to the last follow-up) and musculoskeletal comorbidities. RT plans and most recent surveillance CT scans were reviewed for locations of in-field vertebral bodies and corresponding vertebral growth patterns.


The median follow-up was 7.93 years. The median prescribed radiation dose was 21.6 Gy. Musculoskeletal abnormalities included scoliosis (5 patients), muscular hypoplasia (3), and hypodontia (1). The median growth percentile at treatment onset was 35.5 (range, 4.7–100) versus 10 (0–94.1) at the last follow-up. The median numbers of vertebral bodies encompassed (by at least half of their volume) by the 5-, 10-, 15-, and 20-Gy isodose lines were 7 (mean, 6.78), 7 (6.56), 6 (6.17), and 6 (5.52), respectively. Sixteen patients (70.0%) had in-field abnormalities in vertebral body growth, manifesting as stretches of successive vertebral bodies at the same height, while normally there is a gradual vertebral body height increase progressing caudally down the spinal column.


Musculoskeletal abnormalities, below average height, and stunted in-field vertebral body growth are routine in long-term survivors of high-risk neuroblastoma. Sparing vertebral bodies when feasible may lead to improvement in patient growth trajectories.


High-risk neuroblastoma Vertebral body radiation Growth trajectories Musculoskeletal effects Survivor effects 







National Wilms’ Tumor Study Group


Intensity-modulated radiotherapy


Computed tomography


Center for Disease Control and Prevention


Picture archiving and communication system


Generalized estimating equation


Volumetric-modulated arc therapy




3D conformal radiotherapy


Compliance with ethical standards


This study was funded in part by the Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Shared Resource of Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University and NIH/NCI under the award number P30CA138292. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors. Approval for this retrospective pediatric outcomes study was obtained from our institutional review board.

Informed consent

Statement of informed consent was not applicable since the manuscript does not contain any patient data. Patient identifiers were not included to protect identities.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew J. Ferris
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Sibo Tian
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jeffrey M. Switchenko
    • 2
    • 4
  • Nicholas A. Madden
    • 1
    • 2
  • Bree R. Eaton
    • 1
    • 2
  • Natia Esiashvili
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Radiation OncologyEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Winship Cancer InstituteEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA
  3. 3.The Emory ClinicAtlantaUSA
  4. 4.Department of Biostatistics & BioinformaticsEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA

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