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Radiation Necrosis Follow-up

  • Author: Michael J Schneck, MD, MBA; more...
Updated: Nov 18, 2015

Further Outpatient Care

Many neuro-oncology patients have significant cognitive and neurologic disabilities. These may require physical therapy, occupational therapy, social work support, and home nursing.


Further Inpatient Care

Consider the special medical needs of immobilized patients with a decreased level of consciousness and paralysis. They are more susceptible to deep venous thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, pneumonia, sepsis, malnutrition, and skin breakdown.

Depending on lesion site and treatment effects, patients with brain tumors may be more predisposed to cognitive difficulties and dementia, which in turn increase the risk of delirium and cognitive difficulties. Prevention and treatment of delirium includes reorientation techniques, frequent interactions with familiar personal contacts (eg, family members), minimal or no exposure to psychotropic medications, control of noxious visual and auditory stimuli, correction of underlying metabolic derangements, and maintenance of a normal sleep-wake schedule.



Prognosis is related to the natural history of underlying tumor and the idiosyncratic nature of radiation necrosis. Some lesions may show no interval growth while others require multiple resections to relieve disability. While long-term survival is uncommon, prolonged survival in the context of radiation necrosis has been described.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Michael J Schneck, MD, MBA Vice Chair and Professor, Departments of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Loyola University, Chicago Stritch School of Medicine; Associate Director, Stroke Program, Director, Neurology Intensive Care Program, Medical Director, Neurosciences ICU, Loyola University Medical Center

Michael J Schneck, MD, MBA is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Neurology, American Society of Neuroimaging, Stroke Council of the American Heart Association, Neurocritical Care Society

Disclosure: Received honoraria from Boehringer-Ingelheim for speaking and teaching; Received honoraria from Sanofi/BMS for speaking and teaching; Received honoraria from Pfizer for speaking and teaching; Received honoraria from UCB Pharma for speaking and teaching; Received consulting fee from Talecris for other; Received grant/research funds from NMT Medical for independent contractor; Received grant/research funds from NIH for independent contractor; Received grant/research funds from Sanofi for independe.


Anna Janss, MD, PhD Associate Professor of Pediatric Neuro-oncology, Emory University School of Medicine; Consulting Neuro-oncologist, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta

Anna Janss, MD, PhD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Neurology, American Association for Cancer Research, American Medical Association, International Association for the Study of Pain, Pennsylvania Medical Society, Society for Neuroscience, Children's Oncology Group, Society for Neuro-Oncology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Received salary from Medscape for employment. for: Medscape.

Jorge C Kattah, MD Head, Associate Program Director, Professor, Department of Neurology, University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria

Jorge C Kattah, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Neurology, American Neurological Association, New York Academy of Sciences

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Frederick M Vincent, Sr, MD Clinical Professor, Department of Neurology and Ophthalmology, Michigan State University Colleges of Human and Osteopathic Medicine

Frederick M Vincent, Sr, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Academy of Neurology, American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine, American College of Forensic Examiners Institute, American College of Legal Medicine, American College of Physicians

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


The authors and editors of Medscape Reference gratefully acknowledge the contributions of previous author Robert Wilson, MD to the development and writing of this article.

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MRI of a patient with symptoms of gait unsteadiness 1 year after being diagnosed with a posterior fossa primitive neuroectodermal tumor (PNET). Treatment during the 1-year interval prior to this MRI consisted of surgical resection, craniospinal radiation of 2340 cGy, boost dose given to the posterior fossa for a total of 5500 cGy, chemotherapy (vincristine, cis-platinum, and cyclohexylchloroethylnitrosurea [CCNU]), and dexamethasone therapy.
Positron emission tomography with [18F]-labeled fluorodeoxyglucose (PET-FDG) performed following the MRI of a patient with symptoms of gait unsteadiness 1 year after being diagnosed with a posterior fossa primitive neuroectodermal tumor (PNET). Treatment during the 1-year interval prior to these studies consisted of surgical resection, craniospinal radiation of 2340 cGy, boost dose given to the posterior fossa for a total of 5500 cGy, chemotherapy (vincristine, cis-platinum, and cyclohexylchloroethylnitrosurea [CCNU]), and dexamethasone therapy. PET-FDG demonstrates hypometabolism consistent with probable radiation necrosis. Four years later, the patient is stable and without evidence of tumor progression.
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