Clinical and methodological confounders in assessing the cerebellar cognitive affective syndrome in adult patients with posterior fossa tumours

Dashne Omar, Tracy Ryan, Alan Carson, Thomas H Bak, Lorna Torrens, Ian Whittle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The cerebellar cognitive affective syndrome (CCAS) was first described by Schmahmann and Sherman as a constellation of symptoms including dysexecutive syndrome, spatial cognitive deficit, linguistic deficits and behavioural abnormalities in patients with a lesion in the cerebellum with otherwise normal brain. Neurosurgical patients with cerebellar tumours constitute one of the cohorts in which the CCAS has been described. In this paper, we present a critical review of the literature of this syndrome in neurosurgical patients. Thereafter, we present a prospective clinical study of 10 patients who underwent posterior fossa tumour resection and had a detailed post-operative neuropsychological, neuropsychiatric and neuroradiological assessment. Because our findings revealed a large number of perioperative neuroradiological confounding variables, we reviewed the neuroimaging of a further 20 patients to determine their prevalence. Our literature review revealed that study design, methodological quality and sometimes both diagnostic criteria and findings were inconsistent. The neuroimaging study (pre-operative, n = 10; post-operative, n = 10) showed very frequent neuroradiological confounding complications (e.g. hydrocephalus; brainstem compression; supratentorial lesions and post-operative subdural hygroma); the impact of such features had largely been ignored in the literature. Findings from our clinical study showed various degree of deficits in neuropsychological testing (n = 1, memory; n = 3, verbal fluency; n = 3, attention; n = 2, spatial cognition deficits; and n = 1, behavioural changes), but no patient had full-blown features of CCAS. Our study, although limited, finds no robust evidence of the CCAS following surgery. This and our literature review highlight a need for guidelines regarding study design and methodology when attempting to evaluate neurosurgical cases with regard to the potential CCAS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalBritish Journal of Neurosurgery
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2014


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