Prevalence of incidental meningiomas and gliomas on MRI: a meta‐analysis and meta‐regression analysis

Acta Neurochirurgica (2021) 163:3401–3415

The chance of incidentally detecting brain tumors is increasing as the utilization of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) becomes more prevalent. In this background, knowledge is accumulating in relation to the prediction of their clinical sequence. However, their prevalence—especially the prevalence of glioma—has not been adequately investigated according to age, sex, and region.

Method We systematically reviewed the articles according to the PRISMA statement and calculated the prevalence of meningiomas and diffuse gliomas in adults using a generalized linear mixed model. Specifically, the differences related to age, sex, and region were investigated.

Results The pooled prevalence of incidental meningiomas in MRI studies was 0.52% (95% confidence interval (CI) [0.34– 0.78]) in 37,697 individuals from 36 studies. A meta-regression analysis showed that the prevalence was significantly higher in elderly individuals, women, and individuals outside Asia; this remained statistically significant in the multivariate meta-regression analysis. The prevalence reached to 3% at 90 years of age. In contrast, the prevalence of gliomas in 30,918 individuals from 18 studies was 0.064% (95%CI [0.040 – 0.104]). The meta-regression analysis did not show a significant relationship between the prevalence and age, male sex, or region. The prevalence of histologically confirmed glioma was 0.026% (95%CI [0.013–0.052]).

Conclusions Most of meningiomas, especially those in elderlies, remained asymptomatic, and their prevalence increased with age. However, the prevalence of incidental gliomas was much lower and did not increase with age. The number of gliomas that developed and the number that reached a symptomatic stage appeared to be balanced.

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