We hypothesized that hippocampal-sparing radiotherapy via volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT) could preserve the neurocognitive function (NCF) of patients with primary brain tumors treated with radiotherapy.
We reviewed data from patients with primary brain tumors who underwent hippocampal-sparing brain radiotherapy via VMAT between February 2014 and December 2015. The optimization criteria for the contralateral hippocampus was a maximum dose (Dmax) of less than 17 Gy. For NCF evaluations, the Seoul Verbal Learning Test for total recall, delayed recall, and recognition (SVLT-TR, DR, and Recognition) was performed at baseline and at seven months after radiotherapy.
A total of 26 patients underwent NCF testing seven months after radiotherapy. Their median age was 49.5 years (range 26-77 years), and 14 (53.8%) had grade III/IV tumors. The median Dmaxto the contralateral hippocampus was 16.4 Gy (range 3.5-63.4). The median mean dose to the contralateral hippocampus, expressed as equivalent to a 2-Gy dose (EQD2/2), was 7.4 Gy2(0.7-13.1). The mean relative changes in SVLT-TR, SVLT-DR, and SVLT-Recognition at seven months compared to the baseline were - 7.7% (95% confidence interval [CI], - 19.6% to 4.2%), - 9.2% (95% CI, - 25.4% to 7.0%), and - 3.4% (- 12.7% to 5.8%), respectively. Two patients (7.7%) showed deteriorated NCF in the SVLT-TR and SVLT-DR, and three (11.5%) in the SVLT-Recognition. The mean dose of the left hippocampus and bilateral hippocampi were significantly higher in patients showing deterioration of the SVLT-TR and SVLT-Recognition than in those without deterioration.
The contralateral hippocampus could be effectively spared in patients with primary brain tumor via VMAT to preserve the verbal memory function. Further investigation is needed to identify those patients who will most benefit from hippocampal-sparing radiotherapy of the primary brain tumor.