Among all childhood cancers, brain tumors are second only to leukemia in incidence and are the most common solid pediatric tumors. More than 60 % of pediatric brain tumors are infra-tentorial. The first-line treatment for most infra-tentorial tumors in pediatric patients is surgical resection, with the goal of gross-total resection, relief of symptoms and hydrocephalus, and increased survival. The proximity to the fourth ventricle, and therefore, the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) pathways, predisposes children with posterior fossa tumors to the development of obstructive hydrocephalus and multiple other co-morbidities pre and post-surgery.
This study aims to present our series of pediatric posterior fossa tumor surgeries in the Neurosurgical Department at the American University of Beirut Medical Center(AUBMC) and perform internal quality control for our single-institution consecutive series as one of the largest referral and tertiary care centers in the region. The second purpose of this retrospective study is to weigh the risks of surgery against the presumed advantages and to have specific knowledge about the complication rates, especially those related to the CSF pathway, comparing our results to those in the literature.
All pediatric patients (< 18 years of age), referred to our center from different regions in the middle east, and surgically treated for a posterior fossa tumor from June 2006 to June 2018 at the American University of Beirut Medical Center were included. A thorough review of all medical charts was performed to validate all the database records.
The patient sample consisted of 64 patients having a mean age of 6.19 ± 4.42 years and 59.37 % of whom were males. The most common tumor pathology was pilocytic astrocytoma (40.62 %) followed by medulloblastoma (35.93 %) and ependymoma. The most common type of tumor that was seen in patients that developed mutism postoperatively (n = 6, 9.37 %) was medulloblastoma (n = 4, 66.66 %). In this patient sample, 12.28 % (n = 7) of the patients developed hydrocephalus postoperatively.Midline tumors were more associated with the development of mutism(OR = 4.632, p = 0.306) and hydrocephalus (OR = 5.056, p = 0.135) postoperatively, albeit not statistically significantly.The presence of a preoperative shunt was shown to be protective against the development of CSF leak (OR = 0.636, p = 0.767), as none of the patients that came in with CSF diversion developed a CSF leak after their surgery.
This study from a single center experience accompanied by a thorough literature review sheds light on the complications frequently encountered after posterior fossa tumor surgery in children. These included transient cerebellar mutism, CSF leak, and hydrocephalus as seen in some of our patients. Our findings highlight the need for prospective studies with well-defined protocols directed at assessing novel ways and approaches to minimize the risk of these complications.

Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier B.V.