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Pathologica. 2012 Dec;104(6):425-7.

Cytologic diagnosis of spinal cord ependymoma in cerebrospinal fluid.

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  • 1Department of Pathology-Cytopathology, University of Crete, Faculty of Medicine, Heraklion, Crete, Greece.


Ependymoma cells are known to rarely exfoliate into cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). However, the frequency of CSF involvement in patients with ependymoma is unclear, and to the author's knowledge the cytomorphologic features of tumour cells have not been well described to date. In this study, the CSF findings in a patient with ependymoma and the cytopathological features of this tumor are reported. The patient presented at the University Hospital of Heraklion, Crete, suffering from a chest to back pain. Computed tomography, scanning and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) were performed and a mass of 3x2 cm in the thoracic aspect of the spinal cord was found. A sample of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) was sent for cytologic examination and a diagnosis of ependymoma was made. A biopsy was performed and histology confirmed the cytologic diagnosis of ependymoma grade II (WHO). Exfoliated cells from ependymomas of spinal cord are rarely recognizable in CSF samples. Except in patients with myxopapillary tumours and anaplastic tumours, cytomorphologic features of ependymoma have been described only in case reports of intraoperative imprinting or fine needle aspiration biopsies (FNABs) and not in CSF cytology.

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