Prediction of posterior fossa tumor type in children by means of magnetic resonance image properties, spectroscopy, and neural networks

Jeffrey E. Arle, Craig Morriss, Zhiyue J. Wang, Robert A. Zimmerman, Peter G. Phillips, Leslie N. Sutton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Recent studies have explored characteristics of brain tumors by means of magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) to increase diagnostic accuracy and improve understanding of tumor biology. In this study, a computer-based neural network was developed to combine MRS data (ratios of N-acetyl- aspartate, choline, and creatine) with 10 characteristics of tumor tissue obtained from magnetic resonance (MR) studies, as well as minor size and the patient's age and sex, in hopes of further improving diagnostic accuracy. Data were obtained in 33 children presenting with posterior fossa tumors. The cases were analyzed by a neuroradiologist, who then predicted the tumor type from among three categories (primitive neuroectodermal tumor, astrocytoma, or ependymoma/other) based only on the data obtained via MR imaging. These predictions were compared with those made by neural networks that had analyzed different combinations of the data. The neuroradiologist correctly predicted the tumor type in 73% of the cases, whereas four neural networks using different datasets as inputs were 58 to 95% correct. The neural network that used only the three spectroscopy ratios had the least predictive ability. With the addition of data including MR imaging characteristics, age, sex, and tumor size, the network's accuracy improved to 72%, consistent with the predictions of the neuroradiologist who was using the same information. Use of only the analog data (leaving out information obtained from MR imaging), resulted in 88% accuracy. A network that used all of the data was able to identify 95% of the tumors correctly. It is concluded that a neural network provided with imaging data, spectroscopic data, and a limited amount of clinical information can predict pediatric posterior fossa tumor type with remarkable accuracy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)755-761
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of neurosurgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1997


  • children
  • magnetic resonance maging
  • magnetic resonance spectroscopy
  • neural network
  • pediatric brain tumor
  • posterior fossa tumor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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