MR Spectroscopy Aids in Distinguishing Recurring Brain Tumors from Similar-Appearing Changes Related to Treatment

MR spectroscopy may be a useful adjunct to conventional imaging to distinguish recurrent tumor from treatment-related change in the brain such as inflammation or dead cells, says a new study by researchers from the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor, MI.

In the study, MR spectroscopy was performed on 27 patients who were previously treated with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy for brain tumor. Results of the study revealed that Choline, Creatine and N-acetylaspartate, specific molecules used as markers for identification of tumors and which can be detected with MR spectroscopy, were all readily quantifiable in each patient, allowing accurate recognition. “MR spectroscopy is a tool that can provide a biochemical thumbprint or profile of the brain, allowing accurate identification of recurrent tumor from benign changes related to chemotherapy or radiation therapy,” said Patrick N. Weybright, MD, lead author of the study.

According to Dr. Weybright, a down side to MR spectroscopy is that it is usually more susceptible to artifacts from nearby bone and fluid, which can make it impossible to identify the molecules. However, he said, by using techniques to suppress the overwhelming signal from water, they were able to achieve multivoxel spectroscopy in 25 of 27 patients with no significant artifacts.

According to the authors, the role MR spectroscopy can play in distinguishing recurrent tumor from tumor-related change is an important one for the patient. “It affects patient lifestyle. Early identification of recurrent tumor can allow earlier implementation of treatment to stop the tumor recurrence, and identification of benign changes related to treatment can prevent unnecessary therapy,” said Dr. Weybright.

Dr. Weybright will present the study on May 3 during the American Roentgen Ray Society Annual Meeting in Miami Beach, FL.

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