Spinal ependymomas are rare glial neoplasms. Because their incidence is low, only a few larger studies have investigated this condition. There are no clear data concerning prognosis and therapy. The aim of the study was to describe the natural history, perioperative clinical course, and local tumor control of adult patients with spinal ependymomas who were surgically treated under modern treatment standards.
The authors performed a multicenter retrospective study. They identified 158 adult patients with spinal ependymomas who had received surgical treatment between January 2006 and June 2013. The authors analyzed the clinical and histological aspects of these cases to identify the predictive factors for postoperative morbidity, tumor resectability, and recurrence.
Gross-total resection (GTR) was achieved in 80% of cases. At discharge, 37% of the patients showed a neurological decline. During follow-up the majority recovered, whereas 76% showed at least preoperative status. Permanent functional deterioration remained in 2% of the patients. Transient deficits were more frequent in patients with cervically located ependymomas (p = 0.004) and in older patients (p = 0.002). Permanent deficits were independently predicted only by older age (p = 0.026). Tumor progression was observed in 15 cases. The 5-year progression-free survival (PFS) rate was 80%, and GTR (p = 0.037), WHO grade II (p = 0.009), and low Ki-67 index (p = 0.005) were independent prognostic factors for PFS. Adjuvant radiation therapy was performed in 15 cases. No statistically relevant effects of radiation therapy were observed among patients with incompletely resected ependymomas (p = 0.079).
Due to its beneficial value for PFS, GTR is important in the treatment of spinal ependymoma. Gross-total resection is feasible in the majority of cases, with acceptable rates of permanent deficits. Also, Ki-67 appears to be an important prognostic factor and should be included in a grading scheme for spinal ependymomas.