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Surgical Technique and Outcomes in the Treatment of Spinal Cord Ependymomas: Part II: Myxopapillary Ependymoma

Kucia, Elisa J MD; Maughan, Peter H MD; Kakarla, Udaya K MD; Bambakidis, Nicholas C MD; Spetzler, Robert F MD

doi: 10.1227/NEU.0b013e3181fdf912
Operative Technique

BACKGROUND: Myxopapillary ependymomas usually occur in the filum terminale of the spinal cord.

OBJECTIVE: This report summarizes our experience treating myxopapillary ependymomas.

METHODS: The records of 34 patients (14 men, 20 women; mean age 45.5 years; age range, 14-88 years) who underwent resection of a myxopapillary ependymoma between 1983 and 2006 were reviewed for age, sex, tumor location, symptoms at diagnosis, duration of symptoms, treatment before presentation, extent of surgical resection, adjuvant therapy, length of follow-up, evidence of recurrence, and complications. Neurological examinations performed at presentation, immediately after surgery, and last follow-up were graded according to the McCormick grading scale.

RESULTS: The average duration of symptoms before diagnosis was 22.2 months. The most common symptom was pain followed by weakness, bowel/bladder symptoms, and numbness. The rate of gross total resection was 80%. All patients with a subtotal resection (20%) underwent postoperative radiation therapy. Presentation and outcomes of patients who underwent subtotal resection followed by radiation therapy were compared with those who underwent gross total resection. There was no significant difference in neurological grade between the groups at presentation or final follow-up. The overall recurrence rate was 10% (3/34 patients).

CONCLUSION: The goal of surgical treatment of myxopapillary ependymomas is resection to the greatest extent possible with preservation of function. In cases of subtotal resection, postoperative radiation therapy may improve outcome. If neurological function is maintained at treatment, these indolent lesions allow years of good function.

†Division of Neurological Surgery, Barrow Neurological Institute, St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, Phoenix, Arizona

Correspondence: Robert F. Spetzler, MD c/o Neuroscience Publications Barrow Neurological Institute 350 West Thomas Road Phoenix, Arizona 85013. E-mail:

*Current address: Department of Neurological Surgery, Case Medical Center, University Hospitals of Cleveland, Cleveland, Ohio.

Copyright © by the Congress of Neurological Surgeons