The cases of 6 patients are presented to delineate the clinical profile of delayed radiation necrosis of the brain. In 5 the diagnosis was verified histologically. Symptoms most often begin 9 mth to 2 yr after radiotherapy. Progressive visual impairment and dementia are common following perisellar irradiation, while hemispheric signs predominate following irradiation of the cerebrum. Cerebrospinal fluid protein may be elevated. Focal delta slowing is usually present on electroencephalography. The necrotic brain may appear on radionuclide brain scan as an area of abnormal uptake and also act as an avascular space-occupying lesion. With computerized tomography, radiation necrosis appears as an intracerebral area with diminished absorption coefficient that is often enhanced with intravenous contrast medium. The syndrome may be sufficiently characteristic to eliminate the need for surgical exploration and biopsy in some cases. Cumulative experience suggests that the risk-to-benefit ratio of radiotherapy becomes increasingly unfavorable for most patients with benign intracranial neoplasms when the standard brain tumor dose of 5000 to 7000 rads is fractionated at greater than 200 rads per day.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology