T2-weighted images are superior to other MR image types for the determination of diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma intratumoral heterogeneity

Harward, S.; Harrison Farber, S.; Malinzak, M.; Becher, O.; Thompson, E. M.

Childs Nerv Syst. 2017 Nov 21; 34(3):449-455


PURPOSE: Diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) remains the main cause of death in children with brain tumors. Given the inefficacy of numerous peripherally delivered agents to treat DIPG, convection enhanced delivery (CED) of therapeutic agents is a promising treatment modality. The purpose of this study was to determine which MR imaging type provides the best discrimination of intratumoral heterogeneity to guide future stereotactic implantation of CED catheters into the most cellular tumor regions. METHODS: Patients ages 18 years or younger with a diagnosis of DIPG from 2000 to 2015 were included. Radiographic heterogeneity index (HI) of the tumor was calculated by measuring the standard deviation of signal intensity of the tumor (SDTumor) normalized to the genu of the corpus callosum (SDCorpus Callosum). Four MR image types (T2-weighted, contrast-enhanced T1-weighted, FLAIR, and ADC) were analyzed at several time points both before and after radiotherapy and chemotherapy. HI values across these MR image types were compared and correlated with patient survival. RESULTS: MR images from 18 patients with DIPG were evaluated. The mean survival +/- standard deviation was 13.8 +/- 13.7 months. T2-weighted images had the highest HI (mean +/- SD, 5.1 +/- 2.5) followed by contrast-enhanced T1-weighted images (3.7 +/- 1.5), FLAIR images (3.0 +/- 1.1), and ADC maps (1.6 +/- 0.4). ANOVA demonstrated that HI values were significantly higher for T2-weighted images than FLAIR (p < 0.01) and ADC (p < 0.0001). Following radiotherapy, T2-weighted and contrast-enhanced T1-weighted image HI values increased, while FLAIR and ADC HI values decreased. Univariate and multivariate analyses did not reveal a relationship between HI values and patient survival (p > 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: For children with DIPG, T2-weighted MRI demonstrates the greatest signal intensity variance suggesting tumor heterogeneity. Within this heterogeneity, T2-weighted signal hypointensity is known to correlate with increased cellularity and thus may represent a putative target for CED catheter placement in future clinical trials.

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