Arterial spin labelling and diffusion-weighted imaging in paediatric brain tumours

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Abstract

Background: Diffusion- and perfusion-weighted MRI are valuable tools for measuring the cellular and vascular properties of brain tumours. This has been well studied in adult patients, however, the biological features of childhood brain tumours are unique, and paediatric-focused studies are less common. We aimed to assess the diagnostic utility of apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) values derived from diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) and cerebral blood flow (CBF) values derived from arterial spin labelling (ASL) in paediatric brain tumours. Methods: We performed a meta-analysis of published studies reporting ADC and ASL-derived CBF values in paediatric brain tumours. Data were combined using a random effects model in order to define typical parameter ranges for different histological tumour subtypes and WHO grades. New data were also acquired in a ‘validation cohort’ at our institution, in which ADC and CBF values in treatment naïve paediatric brain tumour patients were measured, in order to test the validity of the findings from the literature in an un-seen cohort. ADC and CBF quantification was performed by two radiologists via manual placement of tumour regions of interest (ROIs), in addition to an automated approach to tumour ROI placement. Results: A total of 14 studies met the inclusion criteria for the meta-analysis, constituting data acquired in 542 paediatric patients. Parameters of interest were based on measurements from ROIs placed within the tumour, including mean and minimum ADC values (ADC ROI-mean , ADC ROI-min ) and the maximum CBF value normalised to grey matter (nCBF ROI-max ). After combination of the literature data, a number of histological tumour subtype groups showed significant differences in ADC values, which were confirmed, where possible, in our validation cohort of 32 patients. In both the meta-analysis and our cohort, diffuse midline glioma was found to be an outlier among high-grade tumour subtypes, with ADC and CBF values more similar to the low-grade tumours. After grouping patients by WHO grade, significant differences in grade groups were found in ADC ROI-mean , ADC ROI-min , and nCBF ROI-max , in both the meta-analysis and our validation cohort. After excluding diffuse midline glioma, optimum thresholds (derived from ROC analysis) for separating low/high-grade tumours were 0.95 × 10 −3 mm 2 /s (ADC ROI-mean ), 0.82 × 10 −3 mm 2 /s (ADC ROI-min ) and 1.45 (nCBF ROI-max ). These thresholds were able to identify low/high-grade tumours with 96%, 83%, and 83% accuracy respectively in our validation cohort, and agreed well with the results from the meta-analysis. Diagnostic power was improved by combining ADC and CBF measurements from the same tumour, after which 100% of tumours in our cohort were correctly classified as either low- or high-grade (excluding diffuse midline glioma). Conclusion: ADC and CBF values are useful for differentiating certain histological subtypes, and separating low- and high-grade paediatric brain tumours. The threshold values presented here are in agreement with previously published studies, as well as a new patient cohort. If ADC and CBF values acquired in the same tumour are combined, the diagnostic accuracy is optimised.

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Hales, P. W., d’Arco, F., Cooper, J., Pfeuffer, J., Hargrave, D., Mankad, K., & Clark, C. (2019). Arterial spin labelling and diffusion-weighted imaging in paediatric brain tumours. NeuroImage: Clinical, 22. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nicl.2019.101696

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