Purpose: To improve differential diagnosis of residual or recurrent tumor vs. tissue necrosis in the course of radiation therapy of neurosurgically-treated brain tumors by application of fast (1)H-MR spectroscopic imaging in combination with single-voxel spectroscopy (SVS).
Methods: 54 patients after with malignant brain tumor (44 cases of glioblastoma, 10 other high-grade gliomas) were examined post-surgically in a total of 140 proton MRS examinations in the course of radiotherapy and in follow-up controls. Fast SI acquisition was performed as single-slice or double-slice TSI sequence with 32 x 32 phase encodings within 11 or 15 minutes, respectively. SVS with TR/TE 2000/272 ms yielded relative metabolite ratios, and in 15 patients the time courses of the absolute concentrations of brain metabolites were also determined.
Results: In the group of 44 patients that could be tracked by MRS until therapy completion, TSI localized in 23 patients a persistent or newly arisen distinct choline accumulation indicating residual or recurrent tumor after radiation therapy. In all these cases MRS diagnosis was confirmed histologically or by short-term follow-up. However, in 6 of 15 patients showing a normal choline pattern in the TSI acquisition, tumor recurrence appeared within three months. SVS provided early recognition of recurrent tumor when detecting characteristic alterations of metabolite concentrations oin therapy follow-up.
Conclusion: TSI and SVS represent complementary MRS techniques and are able to diagnose tumor recurrence early and unambiguously in cases where focal choline accumulation is detected.