MRI sequences and interslice gap influence leptomeningeal metastasis detection in children with brain tumors

Julie H. Harreld, Ayaz Khan*, Jacqueline Angel, Yuanyuan Han, Yimei Li, Amar Gajjar, Zoltan Patay

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Accurate detection of leptomeningeal metastasis (LM) is critical for risk stratification and treatment of pediatric brain tumors. Poor-quality staging MRI has been associated with decreased survival in this population, but technical factors differentiating good from poor quality screening MRIs remain undefined. To test the hypothesis that key technical factors are associated with accurate MRI diagnosis of leptomeningeal metastasis in children with leptomeningeal seeding brain tumors. Methods: MRIs acquired at outside facilities and repeated in our institution within 35 days for 75 children with leptomeningeal seeding tumors were assessed for slice thickness and gap; use of T2 FLAIR + Contrast, acquisition plane of 3DT1WI + Contrast (brain); axial T1 + Contrast sequence, and use of pre-contrast T1 images (spine). Reported findings were recorded as positive, negative, or equivocal for LM and classified as true positive (TP; unequivocal metastasis), false negative (FN; not reported), false positive (FP; resolved without treatment), or true negative. Wilcoxon signed-rank and Fisher’s exact test were used to assess technical differences between TP and FN MRIs. Results: Rate of LM detection was greater with smaller interslice gap in brain (P = 0.003) and spine (P = 0.002); use of T2 FLAIR + Contrast (P = 0.005) and sagittal plane for 3DT1WI + Contrast (P = 0.028) in brain; and use of alternatives to axial TSE/FSE in spine (P = 0.048). Slice thickness was not significant. Pre-contrast T1WI did not contribute to LM diagnosis in spine. Conclusion: Using post-contrast T2 FLAIR and sagittal 3DT1 in brain, small/no interslice gap, and avoiding TSE/FSE axials in spine may facilitate leptomeningeal metastasis detection in children with brain tumors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1447-1456
Number of pages10
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2022


  • Leptomeningeal metastasis
  • Pediatric brain tumor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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