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BMC Res Notes. 2014 Dec 15;7:908. doi: 10.1186/1756-0500-7-908.

Management and outcome in adult intramedullary spinal cord tumours: a 20-year single institution experience.

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Department of Neurosurgery, University of Bonn Medical Center, Sigmund-Freud-Str, 25, Bonn 53105, Germany.



Several uncertainties remain concerning the management of intramedullary spinal cord tumours (IMSCTs). These include the timing and extent of resection, its interrelated functional outcome, and the adequate use and timing of radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy. In this retrospective study we report on all adult cases involving IMSCTs treated from 1987 to 2007 in our institution to validate our treatment strategy for IMSCTs. Pre- and post-operative functional performance was classified according to the McCormick scale.


A total of 70 adult cases with IMSCTs consisting of ependymoma (39), astrocytoma (11), carcinoma metastasis (8), haemangioblastoma (5), cavernoma (3) and others (4) were reviewed. Mean age was 46.8 years (range, 18-79 years), and mean follow-up was 4.5 years (range, 1-195 months). The proportion of localisation in descending order was thoracic (36%), cervical (33%), cervicothoracic (19%) and conus region (13%), with 45 gross total resections, 22 partial resections and three biopsies. Surgery-related morbidity with worsening postoperative symptoms occurred immediately in 13 patients (18.6%). The preoperative McCormick grade correlated significantly with the early postoperative grade and the grade at follow-up (χ2-test; p=0.001). None of the patients with preserved intraoperative evoked potentials exhibited significant postoperative deterioration. The degree of resection was correlated with progression-free survival (Duncan test; p=0.05). Most patients with malignant tumours, namely anaplastic ependymoma (3), astrocytoma (2) or metastatic lesions (5), underwent postoperative radiation therapy. Six patients (one anaplastic ependymoma, two anaplastic astrocytomas and three metastatic lesions) received postoperative chemotherapy.


IMSCTs should be operated on when symptoms are mild. We recommend evoked potential-guided microsurgical total resection of ependymomas and other benign lesions; partial resection or biopsy followed by adjuvant therapy should be confined to patients with high-grade astrocytomas, whereas resection or biopsy with adjuvant therapy is the best option for metastatic lesions.

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