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Neurosurgery. 1991 May;28(5):659-64; discussion 664-5.

Posterior fossa ependymomas: report of 30 cases and review of the literature.

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Department of Neurological Surgery, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota.


Thirty patients with histologically confirmed posterior fossa ependymomas operated on between January 1976 and December 1988 were reviewed. The median age was 44 years (range, 1-69 yr). There were 7 children (aged 5 yr or younger) and 23 adults (aged 16 yr or older). There were 18 female patients and 12 male patients. Headache, nausea and vomiting, and disequilibrium were the most frequent symptoms. The most common findings were ataxia and nystagmus. Gross total resection was performed in 8 patients (27%), subtotal resection in 21 patients (70%), and biopsy in only 1 patient (3%). Tumors were low grade in 73% and high grade in 27%. Twenty-seven patients underwent posterior fossa radiotherapy (median dose, 5400 cGy). Fourteen patients also underwent spinal irradiation (median dose, 3520 cGy). Age was the only significant prognostic factor identified (P less than 0.01). The 5-year survival rates were 76% for adults and 14% for children. All 14 patients who died had recurrent or residual tumor at the primary site. This review suggests that in patients with primary posterior fossa ependymomas the following is true: 1) the young patient (5 yr old or younger) has a poor prognosis; 2) there was a trend toward a better 5-year survival rate with a gross total resection; 3) if recurrence occurs, it will be at the primary intracranial site; and 4) symptomatic spinal seeding does not occur frequently.

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