Intrathecal chemotherapy-associated cerebral vasospasm in children with hematologic malignancies

Lisa R. Sun, Wendy Ziai, Patrick Brown, Adriana Gonzalez Torriente, Stacy Cooper, Rebecca F. Gottesman, Ryan J. Felling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Mechanisms of chemotherapy-associated neurotoxicity are poorly understood, and therefore, prevention strategies have not been developed. We hypothesized that a subgroup of children receiving intrathecal cytarabine develops subclinical vasospasm, which may contribute to long-term neurocognitive sequelae of cancer. Methods: We used transcranial Doppler ultrasound to serially evaluate cerebral blood flow velocities in participants ≤25 years old receiving intrathecal cytarabine for hematologic malignancies. Results: Four of 18 participants (22%) met the criteria for subclinical vasospasm within 4 days of intrathecal cytarabine administration. The distribution of oncologic diagnoses differed between the vasospasm and non-vasospasm groups (p = 0.02). Acute myeloid leukemia was identified as a potential risk factor for vasospasm. Children with vasospasm were more likely to have received intravenous cytarabine (75% versus 0%, p = 0.01) and less likely to have received steroids (25% versus 100%, p = 0.01). Conclusions: A subpopulation of children with hematologic malignancies develops subclinical vasospasm after intrathecal cytarabine treatment. Future research is needed to determine the long-term clinical consequences of cerebral vasospasm in this population. Impact: A subset of children with hematologic malignancies who receive intrathecal cytarabine experience subclinical cerebral vasospasm, as measured by transcranial Doppler ultrasound.Of children receiving intrathecal cytarabine, those who develop cerebral vasospasm are more likely to have diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia, more likely to receive concurrent intravenous cytarabine, and less likely to receive steroids as part of their chemotherapy regimen, as compared with children without vasospasm.Future research is needed to determine if vasospasm during chemotherapy is associated with higher rates of neurocognitive dysfunction, and if so, to focus on prevention of these long-term sequelae of childhood cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)858-862
Number of pages5
JournalPediatric research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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