OBJECTIVE: We sought to evaluate whether taurine detection in short-echo (20 ms) proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy contributes to the noninvasive differential diagnosis between medulloblastoma and cerebellar astrocytoma in children and young adults. These two types of tumor have very different prognoses and may be difficult to differentiate by neuroradiological or clinical means.
METHODS: Single-voxel proton magnetic resonance spectra of tumors were acquired at 1.5 T in 14 patients with biopsy-proven primary cerebellar tumors (six medulloblastomas, seven astrocytomas, and one mixed astroependymoma) using short-echo time (20 ms) and long-echo time (135 ms). For taurine assignment, qualitative analysis was performed on short-echo time spectra and results were compared in vitro with spectra of model solutions. Perchloric acid extracts of postsurgical tumor biopsies were performed in two medulloblastoma cases.
RESULTS: Taurine detection was demonstrated in all patients with medulloblastoma and in none of those with astrocytoma. We were unable to ascertain any relationship between taurine and metastatic spread within the medulloblastoma group.
CONCLUSION: Medulloblastomas characteristically seem to show taurine detectable in vivo by short-echo proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy, which may help to discriminate medulloblastoma from cerebellar astrocytoma.