Atypical white matter volume development in children following craniospinal irradiation

Wilburn E. Reddick, John O. Glass, Shawna L. Palmer, Shingjie Wu, Amar Gajjar, James W. Langston, Larry E. Kun, Xiaoping Xiong, Raymond K. Mulhern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Most children with medulloblastoma (MB), the second most common pediatric brain tumor, have a 70% probability of survival. However, survivors who receive aggressive therapy are at significant risk of cognitive deficits that have been associated with lower volumes of normal-appearing white matter (NAWM). We hypothesized that cranial irradiation inhibited normal brain volume development in these survivors. We retrospectively analyzed 324 MRI studies of 52 patients with histologically proven MB treated with surgery and 35 to 40 Gy craniospinal irradiation, with or without chemotherapy. The volume of NAWM and that of cerebrospinal fluid were quantified from a single index section and compared with those of healthy, age-similar control subjects. A quadratic random coefficient model was used to identify trends in brain volume with increasing age. Patients treated for MB at younger ages demonstrated substantially less development of NAWM volume than did their healthy peers. Younger age at the time of irradiation and the need for a ventricular shunt were significantly associated with reduced NAWM volume. NAWM and craniospinal fluid volume differences between patients who had shunts and those without resolved over a period of four to five years. NAWM volume is known to be associated with neurocognitive test performance, which shows deficiencies after cranial irradiation early in life. Therefore, volumetric monitoring of brain development can be used to guide the care of survivors, assess the toxicity of previous and current clinical trials, and aid in the design of therapies that minimize toxicity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12-19
Number of pages8
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cancer Research


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