Brain tumors are rare in infants under 6-months of age. These tumors can be challenging to treat surgically. We analyzed a modern series of patients treated by a multidisciplinary team at a tertiary care center and performed a literature review of this unique population.
Retrospective clinical data was collected for patients surgically treated for intracranial mass lesions at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia from 1998 to 2007. Dermoid cysts and other skull-based lesions were excluded from the analysis.
Sixteen patients under 6-months of age underwent surgery for primary intracranial mass lesions. The median age of the patients at surgery was 5.2 months (range 1.4 to 6 months of age). Children most often presented with a bulging fontanelle, hydrocephalus, or macrocephaly (7 patients). Vomiting was seen in 5 patients, cranial nerve palsies in 1 patient, and seizures in 3 patients.
All patients had tumor resections and post-operatively were monitored in the intensive care unit. The final pathology consisted of atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumor (3 cases), primitive neuroectodermal tumor/medulloblastoma (3 cases), choroid plexus papilloma (2 cases), astrocytoma (2 cases), ganglioglioma (2 cases), desmoplastic infantile ganglioglioma (2), glioblastoma multiforme (1), and choroid plexus carcinoma (1).
Two intra-operative deaths occurred. Of the surviving 14, a gross total resection was achieved in 4. Adjuvant therapy was determined by a multidisciplinary team composed of neuro-oncology, neurosurgery, and radiation oncology. Seven patients were treated with chemotherapy, 1 patient had proton beam therapy. Five-year overall survival was 45%. The eight surviving patients had neurological sequelae, and developmental outcome was variable.
Brain tumors are uncommon in children under 6-months of age. Patients present with a variety of tumor pathologies. Children who survive have neurological sequelae. More studies are necessary to understand the impact that different treatment options, tumor pathology, and tumor location have on neurological outcome.