Diagnostic accuracy and added value of qualitative radiological review of (1) H-magnetic resonance spectroscopy in evaluation of childhood brain tumors.


H-magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) facilitates noninvasive diagnosis of pediatric brain tumors by providing metabolite profiles. Prospective studies of diagnostic accuracy and comparisons with conventional MRI are lacking. We aimed to evaluate diagnostic accuracy of MRS for childhood brain tumors and determine added clinical value compared with conventional MRI. Children presenting to a tertiary pediatric center with brain lesions from December 2015 through 2017 were included. MRI and single-voxel MRS were acquired on 52 tumors and sequentially interpreted by 3 radiologists, blinded to histopathology. Proportions of correct diagnoses and interrater agreement at each stage were compared. Cases were reviewed to determine added value of qualitative radiological review of MRS through increased certainty of correct diagnosis, reduced number of differentials, or diagnosis following spectroscopist evaluation. Final diagnosis was agreed by the tumor board at study end. Radiologists’ principal MRI diagnosis was correct in 69%, increasing to 77% with MRS. MRI + MRS resulted in significantly more additional correct diagnoses than MRI alone ( = .035). There was a significant increase in interrater agreement when correct with MRS ( = .046). Added value following radiologist interpretation of MRS occurred in 73% of cases, increasing to 83% with additional spectroscopist review. First histopathological diagnosis was available a median of 9.5 days following imaging, with 25% of all patients managed without conclusive histopathology. MRS can improve the accuracy of noninvasive diagnosis of pediatric brain tumors and add value in the diagnostic pathway. Incorporation into practice has the potential to facilitate early diagnosis, guide treatment planning, and improve patient care.

Neuro-oncology practice