Twenty-five young adult survivors of pediatric brain tumors treated with either whole-brain (n = 12), whole-ventricular (n = 7), or no RT (n = 6) underwent 7T MRI and neurocognitive testing. Simultaneously acquired MR angiography and susceptibility-weighted images were used to segment CMBs and vessels and quantify their radii and volume.
Patients treated with whole-brain RT had significantly lower arterial volumes (p = 0.003) and a higher proportion of smaller vessels (p = 0.003) compared to the whole-ventricular RT and non-irradiated control patients. Normalized arterial volume decreased with increasing CMB count (R = - 0.66, p = 0.003), and decreasing trends were observed with time since RT and at longitudinal follow-up. Global cognition and verbal memory significantly decreased with smaller normalized arterial volume (p ≤ 0.05).
Arterial volume is reduced with increasing CMB presence and is influenced by the total brain volume exposed to radiation. This work highlights the potential use of vascular-derived metrics as non-invasive markers of treatment-induced injury and cognitive impairment in pediatric brain tumor patients.