Initial investigation into microbleeds and white matter signal changes following radiotherapy for low-grade and benign brain tumors using ultra-high-field mri techniques
American Journal of Neuroradiology
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BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: External beam radiation therapy is a common treatment for many brain neoplasms. While external beam radiation therapy adheres to dose limits to protect the uninvolved brain, areas of high dose to normal tissue still occur. Patients treated with chemoradiotherapy can have adverse effects such as microbleeds and radiation necrosis, but few studies exist of patients treated without chemotherapy. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Ten patients were treated for low-grade or benign neoplasms with external beam radiation therapy only and scanned within 12-36 months following treatment with a 7T MR imaging scanner. A multiecho gradient-echo sequence was acquired and postprocessed into SWI, quantitative susceptibility mapping, and apparent transverse relaxation maps. Six patients returned for follow-up imaging approximately 18 months following their first research scan and were imaged with the same techniques. RESULTS: At the first visit, 7/10 patients had microbleeds evident on SWI, quantitative susceptibility mapping, and apparent transverse relaxation. All microbleeds were within a dose region of 45 Gy. Additionally, 4/10 patients had asymptomaticWMsignal changes evident on standard imaging. Further analysis with our technique revealed that these lesions were venocentric, suggestive of a neuroinflammatory process. CONCLUSIONS: There exists a potential for microbleeds in patients treated with external beam radiation therapy without chemotherapy. This finding is of clinical relevance because it could be a precursor of future neurovascular disease and indicates that additional care should be taken when using therapies such as anticoagulants. Additionally, the appearance of venocentricWMlesions could be suggestive of a neuroinflammatory mechanism that has been suggested in diseases such as MS. Both findings merit further investigation in a larger population set.