Intracranial subependymomas are rarely reported due to their extremely low incidence. Knowledge about subependymomas is therefore poor. This study aimed to analyze the incidence and clinical, radiological, and pathological features of intracranial subependymomas.
Approximately 60,000 intracranial tumors were surgically treated at Beijing Tiantan Hospital between 2003 and 2013. The authors identified all cases in which patients underwent resection of an intracranial tumor that was found to be pathological examination demonstrated to be subependymoma and analyzed the data from these cases.
Forty-three cases of pathologically confirmed, surgically treated intracranial subependymoma were identified. Thus in this patient population, subependymomas accounted for approximately 0.07% of intracranial tumors (43 of an estimated 60,000). Radiologically, 79.1% (34/43) of intracranial subependymomas were misdiagnosed as other diseases. Pathologically, 34 were confirmed as pure subependymomas, 8 were mixed with ependymoma, and 1 was mixed with astrocytoma. Thirty-five patients were followed up for 3.0 to 120 months after surgery. Three of these patients experienced tumor recurrence, and one died of tumor recurrence. Univariate analysis revealed that shorter progression-free survival (PFS) was significantly associated with poorly defined borders. The association between shorter PFS and age < 14 years was almost significant (p = 0.51), and this variable was also included in the multivariate analysis. However, multivariate analysis showed showed only poorly defined borders to be an independent prognostic factor for shorter PFS (RR 18.655, 95% CI 1.141–304.884, p = 0.040). In patients 14 years of age or older, the lesions tended to be pure subependymomas located in the unilateral supratentorial area, total removal tended to be easier, and PFS tended to be longer. In comparison, in younger patients subependymomas tended to be mixed tumors involving the bilateral infratentorial area, with a lower total removal rate and shorter PFS.
Intracranial subependymoma is a rare benign intracranial tumor with definite radiological features. Long-term survival can be expected, although poorly defined borders are an independent predictor of shorter PFS. All the features that differ between tumors in younger and older patients suggest that they might have different origins, biological behaviors, and prognoses.