Object: The aim of this study is to delineate the long-term results for patients going through surgery for pediatric brain tumors in the first 6 months of life.
Methods: Thirty consecutive children (1-182 days old) who underwent primary resection for a brain tumor during the years 1973-2012 were included in this retrospective study on surgical morbidity, mortality rate, academic achievement, and/or work participation. Gross motor function and activities of daily life were scored according to the Barthel index.
Results: Of the 30 patients, 11 children had surgery in the first 3 months of life (1 to 88 days) and 19 were aged 3 to 6 months (94-182 days) at the time of surgery. The male/female ratio was 1.0 (15/15). No patients were lost to follow-up. Two patients died in the postoperative period (30 days). Another eight patients died during the follow-up. Twenty patients are alive, with follow-up times from 2 to 38 years, median 13 years. Among the 28 children who survived the primary resection, eight underwent repeat surgery from 6 months to 5 years after the first operation. Two children were operated three times, and one of these also a fourth time. Gross total resection (GTR) was achieved in 20 of the primary resections, subtotal resection (STR) in 6, and in the last 4, only a biopsy or a partial resection was performed. Nine children received adjuvant chemotherapy and three of these also radiotherapy (in the years 1979-1987). Among the 20 survivors, the Barthel index is normal (100) in 18 patients, 40 in one, and 20 in the last one. Eight tumors were located to the posterior fossa, and 22 were supratentorial. Eighteen tumors were histologically low-grade (WHO grade I-II), most of these were plexus papillomas (7) or astrocytomas (7), and 12 were high-grade (WHO grade III-IV); PNET/medulloblastomas (6), ependymoma (2), glioblastoma (2), teratoma, and plexus carcinoma.
Conclusion: Infants with brain tumors may clearly benefit from surgical resection with favorable results even for prolonged periods of time. Ten children died, two of them with prolonged survival for 9 and 29 years. Among the 20 survivors, a stable very long-term result appears obtainable in 18 also when it comes to quality of life. Four of the survivors have been treated for highly malignant tumors with a follow-up of 5, 11, 14, and 26 years. One of our infant patients treated for GBM in 1982, lived for 29 years, however, with a progressive decline in the quality of life probably due to postoperative whole-brain radiation.
Keywords: Brain tumor in infants; Long-term results; Pediatric neurosurgery.