Objectives: This study examined the effects of posterior fossa tumor surgery and concomitant irradiation and/or chemotherapy on the long-term recovery of balance function in children and adolescent patients.
Subjects and methods: 22 patients, treated during childhood for a benign (n = 14) or malignant cerebellar tumor (n = 8), were examined in chronic state (mean latency between surgery and testing: 7.7 years, range 3 - 17 years). Postural impairments were assessed with static and dynamic posturography. All cerebellar lesions were documented by standardized and normalized MRI data. Healthy age- and gender-matched subjects served as a control group.
Results: Comparing the balance function of (i) children with or without affected cerebellar nuclei and (ii) children with and without adjuvant chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy revealed that damage to the cerebellar nuclei had more impact on neurological impairment than concomitant tumor therapy. Balance abnormalities were most pronounced when a lesion affected the fastigial nucleus. Chemotherapy with its neurological side effect was associated with enhanced postural sway in only two children with malignant tumors.
Conclusions: The study results indicate that the sparing of the deep cerebellar nuclei had the greatest impact on the recovery of balance function in pediatric patients treated for both a benign or malignant cerebellar tumor.