BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Identification of a partial/complete chemotherapy response in pediatric patients with intracranial germ cell tumors is clinically important for radiation treatment and management. Partial/complete response is conventionally determined on postcontrast MR imaging sequences. The purpose of this study was to assess the diagnostic utility of a balanced steady-state free precession sequence as an adjunct to standard MR imaging sequences for the detection of residual tumor in pediatric patients on postchemoreduction pre-radiation planning MR imaging.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: This was a retrospective study of pediatric patients with intracranial germ cell tumors undergoing postchemotherapy, preradiotherapy MR imaging. Patients underwent 1.5T or 3T MR imaging with pre- and postcontrast T1WIs, T2WIs, and a balanced steady-state free precession sequence. Two neuroradiologists independently reviewed standard MR imaging sequences without the balanced steady-state free precession sequence, then with the balanced steady-state free precession sequence 1 week later. Assessment for partial/complete response was determined using Response Assessment in Neuro-Oncology criteria. A 5-point Likert scale scored the diagnostic confidence of the neuroradiologist rating each study without/with the balanced steady-state free precession sequence. Rates of residual disease concordance and diagnostic confidence levels without/with the balanced steady-state free precession sequence were calculated. RESULTS: Thirty-nine patients were included with 31 males and 8 females (mean age, 14.15 ± 4.26 years). Thirty-one patients had single-site disease; 8 patients had multisynchronous disease (47 sites in total). Compared to review of the standard MR sequences alone, the addition of the balanced steady state free precession sequence resulted in higher rates of tumor partial response categorization and greater diagnostic confidence levels (P < .001, P < .001).
CONCLUSIONS: The balanced steady-state free precession sequence improves detection of residual chemotherapy-reduced intracranial germ cell tumors and increases diagnostic confidence of the neuroradiologist. The balanced steady-state free precession sequence may be an important adjunct to the standard MR imaging protocol for radiation planning.