Persistent Cognitive Dysfunction Secondary to Cerebellar Injury in Patients Treated for Posterior Fossa Tumors in ChildhoodRønning C.a · Sundet K.b · Due-Tønnessen B.a · Lundar T.a · Helseth E.c
aDepartment for Neurosurgery, Rikshospitalet University Hospital, bDepartment of Psychology, University of Oslo and cDepartment of Neurosurgery, Ullevål University Hospital, Oslo, Norway
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Traditionally, the cerebral hemispheres have been regarded as the region of the brain responsible for cognitive functions, while the cerebellum has been considered to be primarily involved in motor functions. Recent studies focus also on the possible involvement of the cerebellum in neurocognitive functions. The aim of this study was to determine the neuropsychological profile of young adults treated for a posterior fossa tumor in childhood and look for possible support for the presence of the so-called ‘cerebellar cognitive affective syndrome’ in these patients. Two groups of young adults were studied. The astrocytoma group (n = 12) had been treated for a low-grade cerebellar astrocytoma with surgery alone (mean age at surgery was 8.6 years and mean age at neuropsychological testing was 23.5 years). The medulloblastoma group (n = 11) had been treated with surgery followed by radiotherapy and chemotherapy (mean age at surgery was 6.1 years and mean age at neuropsychological testing was 23.1 years). The neuropsychological test battery comprised measures of intelligence, motor function, attention, psychomotor speed, verbal memory and visual memory. The medulloblastoma group performed poorer than the astocytoma group on all neuropsychological measures except one. Nonetheless, the astrocytoma group also had impaired scores compared with standard norms on measures of motor speed, attention and executive function. No significant correlation between age at time of treatment and grade of neuropsychological impairment was found in the astrocytoma group, though there was a tendency that young age at time of treatment correlated with better outcome on IQ measures. In the medulloblastoma group, age was significantly correlated with outcome, for both IQ and degree of neuropsychological impairment. For this group, young age at time of treatment indicated a worse outcome. Conclusions: Persistent cognitive dysfunction was detected in patients treated for posterior fossa medulloblastoma and cerebellar astrocytoma. The astrocytoma group was treated with surgery alone, indicating that a cerebellar lesion can result in cognitive dysfunction. Thus, this study gives support to the existence of the cerebellar cognitive affective syndrome. Follow-up of all patients treated for posterior fossa tumor in childhood should include an extensive neuropsychological testing at regular intervals. This may be of benefit for school planning and later work planning.
© 2005 S. Karger AG, Basel
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