Anesthesia Exposure during Therapy Predicts Neurocognitive Outcomes in Survivors of Childhood Medulloblastoma

Lisa M. Jacola*, Doralina L. Anghelescu, Lacey Hall, Kathryn Russell, Hui Zhang, Fang Wang, Joanna B. Peters, Michael Rossi, Jane E. Schreiber, Amar Gajjar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine the contribution of anesthesia exposure during treatment for childhood medulloblastoma to neurocognitive outcomes 3 years after tumor diagnosis. Study design: In this retrospective study, anesthesia data were abstracted from medical records for 111 patients treated with risk-adapted protocol therapy at St Jude Children's Research Hospital. Neurocognitive testing data were obtained for 90.9% of patients. Results: For the 101 patients (62.4% male) who completed testing, mean age at diagnosis was 10.1 years, and 74.3% were staged to have average-risk disease. Anesthesia exposure during treatment ranged from 1 to 52 events (mean = 19.9); mean cumulative duration per patient was 21.1 hours (range 0.7–59.7). Compared with normative expectations (16%), the group had a significantly greater frequency of at-risk scores (<1 SD) on measures of intelligence (28.7%), attention (35.2%), working memory (26.6%), processing speed (46.7%), and reading (25.8%). Including anesthesia exposure duration to linear regression models accounting for age at diagnosis, treatment intensity, and baseline IQ significantly increased the predicted variance for intelligence (r2 = 0.59), attention (r2 = 0.29), working memory (r2 = 0.31), processing speed (r2 = 0.44), and reading (r2 = 0.25; all P values <.001). Conclusions: In survivors of childhood medulloblastoma, a neurodevelopmentally vulnerable population, greater exposure to anesthesia significantly and independently predicts deficits in neurocognitive and academic functioning. When feasible, anesthesia exposure during treatment should be reduced.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-147.e4
Journaljournal of pediatrics
StatePublished - Aug 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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