Pediatric Incidental Brain Tumors: a Growing Treatment Dilemma

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Rising numbers of MRI studies performed during evaluations for pediatric disorders have contributed to a significant increase in the number of incidentally found brain tumors. Currently, there is very little literature on the nature of and the preferred treatment for these incidental brain tumors. In this paper the authors review their experience diagnosing and treating these lesions in children as well as the current literature on this topic.


Records from 2 centers were reviewed for incidentally found brain tumors, treatment approaches, and outcomes for both surgical and nonsurgical cohorts.


Forty-seven children (30 males and 17 females) with a mean age of 8.6 years were found to have incidental brain lesions suspected to be neoplasms. Twenty-five underwent surgery and 22 were observed. Two children in the observation group required surgery at a later stage. Tumor pathology in 24 patients was benign. Only 3 patients had high-grade tumors. All nonsurgically treated lesions were presumed to be low-grade tumors and were followed up for 25 ± 20 months.


The discovery of incidental brain tumors on MRI in children poses an increasing challenge. Additional studies are needed to determine the significance as well as the optimal management strategies in this situation.