Transient white matter changes on MR images in children undergoing chemotherapy for acute lymphocytic leukemia: correlation with neuropsychologic deficiencies

Radiology. 1991 Jul;180(1):205-9. doi: 10.1148/radiology.180.1.2052695.


The cranial magnetic resonance (MR) images of 25 children with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) who were undergoing chemotherapy were retrospectively studied to determine the frequency of white matter changes and to analyze the significance of these observed changes in predicting subsequent neuropsychologic deficiencies. MR images showed transient white matter abnormalities in 17 of the 25 patients during consolidation therapy. Twelve of 20 children showed neuropsychologic deficits. There was no correlation between white matter changes and neuropsychologic deficits. In the subgroup of children under age 5 years at the time of diagnosis, 10 of 11 showed neuropsychologic deficits, and eight of 11 had white matter changes. Children under age 5 who undergo chemotherapy for ALL are at high risk to develop neuropsychologic deficiencies. Age at diagnosis is a reliable predictor of subsequent neuropsychologic deficits.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests*
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / drug therapy
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / pathology*
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / psychology
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Sensitivity and Specificity