Object: Diffusion tensor (DT) imaging was used in children with supratentorial tumors to evaluate the anisotropic diffusion properties between different tumor grades and between tumors and adjacent and contralateral white matter.
Methods: In this retrospective review, the authors review the cases of 16 children (age range 1-18 years) who presented to their institution with supratentorial tumors and were treated between 2004 and 2007. Eleven patients had low-grade and 5 had high-grade tumors. Fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity, and axial (lambda parallel) and radial (lambda perpendicular) eigenvalues within selected regions were studied. Mitotic index, necrosis, and vascularity of the tumors were compared with DT imaging parameters.
Results: The mean diffusivity was significantly higher in low-grade than in high-grade tumors (p = 0.04); the 2 tumor grades also significantly differed for both lambda parallel (p < 0.05) and lambda perpendicular (p < 0.05). Mean diffusivity values in low-grade tumors were significantly higher than in adjacent normal-appearing white matter (NAWM; p = 0.0004) and contralateral NAWM (p = 0.0001). In both low- and high-grade tumors, the FA was significantly lower than in NAWM (p < 0.0001 and p < 0.03, respectively) and contralateral NAWM (p < 0.0001 and p < 0.003, respectively). Tumor cellularity highly correlated with mean diffusivity and lambda parallel and lambda perpendicular.
Conclusions: Diffusion tensor imaging is a useful tool in the evaluation of supratentorial tumors in children. The mean diffusivity appears to be a significant marker in differentiating tumors grades. Findings related to lambda parallel and lambda perpendicular within tumor groups and between tumors and NAWM may be an indirect manifestation of the combined effects of axonal injury, demyelination, and tumor mass within the cranial compartment.