INTRODUCTION: The clinical impact of 5-aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA) fluorescence during resection of brain metastases is not yet clear.. Recent data demonstrated significantly lower incidence of visible fluorescence in cerebral melanoma metastases (CMM) compared to other brain metastases (BM). The aim of this study was to investigate if characteristic melanoma features such as pigmentation, intratumoural hemosiderin and bleeding have an influence on visible fluorescence in CMM.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: A retrospective study of two neurosurgical centers was performed including adult patients with resection of CMM after preoperative administration of 5-ALA. Data on the fluorescence status (visible or no fluorescence), the fluorescence quality (strong, vague, none) and fluorescence homogeneity (homogeneous or heterogeneous) of each CMM were collected. The amount of melanin, hemosiderin and intratumoural bleeding was semi-quantitatively determined and automated computer-based calculation of the relative pigmented area was performed in fluorescing and non-fluorescing CMM samples.
RESULTS: Altogether, 29 CMM were surgically removed after 5-ALA administration. Visible fluorescence was detected in 8 CMM (28%), whereas no fluorescence was detected in 21 CMM (72%). In detail, 3 tumors (10%) showed strong fluorescence, 5 tumors (17%) revealed vague fluorescence and in 21 tumors (72%) no fluorescence was found. In total, 8 fluorescing and 25 non-fluorescing CMM samples were investigated. According to the semi-quantitatively calculated fluorescence status, no statistically significant difference in the median amount of melanin (p = 0.242), hemosiderin (p = 0.603) and bleeding (p = 0.762) between CMM samples with and without visible fluorescence was found. Moreover, the automatically assessed relative pigmented area did not show a statistically significant difference between samples with visible and no fluorescence (p = 0.966).
CONCLUSION: Our data indicate that 5-ALA fluorescence is not dependent on the amount of pigmentation, intratumoural hemosiderin and bleeding in CMM. We thus assume that other factors are responsible for the low rate of visible fluorescence in CMM.