Background: Pilocytic astrocytomas (PA) are common childhood brain tumours whose management and prognosis vary widely depending on location. (1)H magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) measures biochemistry in vivo and shows promise for characterising brain tumours and aiding management.
Methods: Single voxel MRS (1.5 Tesla, TE 30 ms, TR 1500 ms) was performed on 27 children with PAs. Cases were designated 'progressors' if tumour progression led to their clinical management plan being altered.
Results: Prior to treatment, supratentorial tumours had significantly higher myo-inositol (p<0.01, t-test) and glutamate plus glutamine (p=0.02, t-test) than cerebellar tumours. Optic pathway or thalamic tumours that progressed had a significantly (p=0.04, t-test) lower myo-inositol at initial MRS than those with stable disease. Myo-inositol levels decreased significantly in progressors between the initial and subsequent MRS (p=0.03, paired t-test). Changes in myo-inositol occurred before clinical and radiological progression.
Conclusions: MRS identifies differences with anatomical location in PAs and yields potential non-invasive biomarkers of prognosis.