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Extramedullary Ependymoma Near the Conus Medullaris With Lumbar Nerve Root Attachment: Case Report

Bonfield, Christopher M MD; Amin, Devin MD, PhD; Hamilton, Ronald L MD; Gerszten, Peter C MD, MPH

doi: 10.1227/NEU.0b013e318209257e
Case Reports

BACKGROUND AND IMPORTANCE: Ependymomas are the most common primary spinal cord tumor, most frequently located near the cauda equina and conus medullaris. We believe that this is the first reported case of a low-grade, nonmyxopapillary (World Health Organization grade 2), intradural, extramedullary ependymoma involving a spinal nerve root.

CLINICAL PRESENTATION: An 87-year-old woman presented with a chief complaint of acute onset of severe right hip and lateral thigh pain without midline back pain. She had baseline chronic bladder dysfunction, which remained unchanged. Her physical examination was significant for 4/5 strength in her right hip flexion (possibly related to pain), and 5 beats of clonus bilaterally. She had no point tenderness at the level of her compression fracture. Computed tomography of the patient's lumbar spine revealed a well-corticated, chronic compression fracture of the L3 vertebral body. Magnetic resonance images demonstrated an ovoid-shaped, 1.5 × 1-cm, well-circumscribed, intradural, extramedullary lesion at the conus medullaris. The patient underwent an L1-3 laminectomy with intradural resection of the mass, which was found to be intricately involved with a single nerve root. The nerve root was coagulated and sectioned, and a gross total resection of the tumor was achieved.

CONCLUSION: The patient tolerated the procedure well, with no complications or any postoperative neurological deficit. Her right-sided pain immediately resolved after surgery. Her strength and ambulation were normal after surgery. No adjuvant radiotherapy was offered to the patient. This case illustrates a unique tumor presentation and the successful surgical treatment of the condition.

Departments of Neurological Surgery and Pathology (CMB, DA, RLH, PCG), Division of Neuropathology, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Received, September 18, 2009.

Accepted, November 30, 2009.

Correspondence: Peter C. Gerszten, MD, MPH, Department of Neurological Surgery, Presbyterian University Hospital, Ste B-400, 200 Lothrop St, Pittsburgh, PA 15213. E-mail:

Copyright © by the Congress of Neurological Surgeons