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Michael Safaee, Andrew T. Parsa, Nicholas M. Barbaro, Dean Chou, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Philip R. Weinstein, Tarik Tihan and Christopher P. Ames


Intradural extramedullary spine tumors represent two-thirds of all primary spine neoplasms. Approximately half of these are peripheral nerve sheath tumors, mainly neurofibromas and schwannomas. Given the rarity of this disease and, thus, the limited analyses of clinical outcomes, the authors examined the association of tumor location, extent of resection, and neurofibromatosis (NF) status with clinical outcomes.


Patients were identified through a search of the University of California, San Francisco, neuropathology database and a separate review of current procedural terminology codes. Data recorded included patient age, patient sex, clinical presentation, presence of NF, tumor type, tumor location, extent of resection (gross-total resection [GTR] or subtotal resection [STR]), and clinical follow-up.


Of 221 tumors in 199 patients (mean age 45 years), 53 were neurofibromas, 163 were schwannomas, and 5 were malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors. The most common presenting symptom was spinal pain (76%), followed by weakness (36%) and sensory abnormalities (34%). Mean symptom duration was 16 months. In terms of spinal location, neurofibromas were more common in the cervical spine (74% vs 27%, p < 0.001), and schwannomas were more common in the thoracic and lumbosacral spine (73% vs 26%, p < 0.001). Rates of GTR were lower for neurofibromas than schwannomas (51% vs 83%, p < 0.001), regardless of location. Rates of GTR were lower for cervical (54%) than thoracic (90%) and lumbosacral (86%) lesions (p < 0.001). NF was associated with lower rates of GTR among all tumors (43% vs 86%, p < 0.001). The mean follow-up time was 32 months. Recurrence/progression was more common for neurofibromas than schwannomas (17% vs 7%, p = 0.03), although the mean time to recurrence/progression did not differ according to tumor type (45 vs 53 months, p = 0.63). As expected, GTR was associated with lower recurrence rates (4% vs 22%, p < 0.001). According to multivariate analysis, cervical location (OR 0.239, 95% CI 0.110–0.520) and presence of NF (OR 0.166, 95% CI 0.054–0.507) were associated with lower rates of GTR. In a separate model, only GTR (OR 0.141, 95% CI 0.046–0.429) was associated with tumor recurrence.


Resection is an effective treatment for spinal nerve sheath tumors. Neurofibromas were found more commonly in the cervical spine than in other regions of the spine and were associated with higher rates of recurrence and lower rates of GTR than other tumor types, particularly in patients with NF Types 1 or 2. According to multivariate analysis, both cervical location and presence of NF were associated with lower rates of GTR. According to a second multivariate model, the only variable associated with tumor recurrence was extent of resection. Maximal safe resection remains ideal for these lesions; however, patients with cervical tumors or NF should be counseled about their increased risk for recurrence.

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Michael Safaee, Michael C. Oh, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Philip R. Weinstein, Christopher P. Ames, Dean Chou, Mitchel S. Berger, Andrew T. Parsa and Nalin Gupta


Ependymomas are a common type of CNS tumor in children, although only 13% originate from the spinal cord. Aside from location and extent of resection, the factors that affect outcome are not well understood.


The authors performed a search of an institutional neuropathology database to identify all patients with spinal cord ependymomas treated over the past 20 years. Data on patient age, sex, clinical presentation, symptom duration, tumor location, extent of resection, use of radiation therapy, surgical complications, presence of tumor recurrence, duration of follow-up, and residual symptoms were collected. Pediatric patients were defined as those 21 years of age or younger at diagnosis. The extent of resection was defined by the findings of the postoperative MR images.


A total of 24 pediatric patients with spinal cord ependymomas were identified with the following pathological subtypes: 14 classic (Grade II), 8 myxopapillary (Grade I), and 2 anaplastic (Grade III) ependymomas. Both anaplastic ependymomas originated in the intracranial compartment and spread to the spinal cord at recurrence. The mean follow-up duration for patients with classic and myxopapillary ependymomas was 63 and 45 months, respectively. Seven patients with classic ependymomas underwent gross-total resection (GTR), while 4 received subtotal resection (STR), 2 received STR as well as radiation therapy, and 1 received radiation therapy alone. All but 1 patient with myxopapillary ependymomas underwent GTR. Three recurrences were identified in the Grade II group at 45, 48, and 228 months. A single recurrence was identified in the Grade I group at 71 months. The mean progression-free survival (PFS) was 58 months in the Grade II group and 45 months in the Grade I group.


Extent of resection is an important prognostic factor in all pediatric spinal cord ependymomas, particularly Grade II ependymomas. These data suggest that achieving GTR is more difficult in the upper spinal cord, making tumor location another important factor. Although classified as Grade I lesions, myxopapillary ependymomas had similar outcomes when compared with classic (Grade II) ependymomas, particularly with respect to PFS. Long-term complications or new neurological deficits were rare. Among patients with long-term follow-up, those who underwent GTR had a recurrence rate of 20% compared with 40% among those with STR or biopsy only, suggesting that extent of resection is perhaps a more important prognostic factor than histological grade in predicting PFS, which has been suggested by other data in the literature. Given the relative paucity of these lesions, collaborative multiinstitutional studies are needed, and such efforts should also focus on molecular and genetic analysis to refine the current classification system.

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Aaron J. Clark, John E. Ziewacz, Michael Safaee, Darryl Lau, Russ Lyon, Dean Chou, Philip R. Weinstein, Christopher P. Ames, John P. Clark III and Praveen V. Mummaneni


The use of intraoperative neurophysiological monitoring (IONM) in surgical decompression surgery for myelopathy may assist the surgeon in taking corrective measures to reduce or prevent permanent neurological deficits. We evaluated the efficacy of IONM in cervical and cervicothoracic spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) cases.


The authors retrospectively reviewed 140 cases involving patients who underwent surgery for CSM utilizing IONM during 2011 at the University of California, San Francisco. Data on preoperative clinical variables, intraoperative changes in transcranial motor evoked potentials (MEPs), and postoperative new neurological deficits were collected. Associations between categorical variables were analyzed with the Fisher exact test.


Of the 140 patients, 16 (11%) had significant intraoperative decreases in MEPs. In 8 of these cases, the MEP signal did not return to baseline values by the end of the operation. There were 8 (6%) postoperative deficits, of which 6 were C-5 palsies and 2 were paraparesis. Six of the patients with postoperative deficits had demonstrated persistent MEP signal change on IONM. There was a significant association between persistent MEP changes and postoperative deficits (p < 0.001). The sensitivity of intraoperative MEP monitoring was 75%, the specificity 98%, the positive predictive value 75%, and the negative predictive value 98%. Due to higher rates of false negatives, the sensitivity decreased to 60% in the subgroup of patients with vascular disease comorbidity. The sensitivity increased to 100% in elderly patients and in patients with preoperative motor deficits. The sensitivity and positive predictive value of deltoid and biceps MEP changes in predicting C-5 palsy were 67% and 67%, respectively.


The authors found a correlation between decreased intraoperative MEPs and postoperative new neurological deficits in patients with CSM. Sensitivity varies based on patient comorbidities, age, and preoperative neurological function. Monitoring of MEPs is a useful adjunct for CSM cases, and the authors have developed a checklist to standardize their responses to intraoperative MEP changes.