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Nicolò Marchesini, Nicola Tommasi, Franco Faccioli, Giampietro Pinna, and Francesco Sala

OBJECTIVE

Cauda equina ependymoma (CEE) is a rare tumor for which little information is available on the oncological and clinical outcomes of patients. In this study the authors aimed to address functional, oncological, and quality-of-life (QOL) outcomes in a large series of consecutive patients operated on at their institution during the past 20 years.

METHODS

The records of 125 patients who underwent surgery between January 1998 and September 2018 were reviewed. Analyzed variables included demographic, clinical, radiological, surgical, and histopathological features. Neurological outcomes were graded according to the McCormick and Kesselring scales. The QOL at follow-up was evaluated by administering the EQ-5DL questionnaire.

RESULTS

On admission, 84% of patients had a McCormick grade of I and 76.8% had a Kesselring score of 0. At follow-up (clinical 8.13 years; radiological 5.87 years) most scores were unchanged. Sacral level involvement (p = 0.029) and tumor size (p = 0.002) were predictors of poor functional outcome at discharge. Tumor size (p = 0.019) and repeated surgery (p < 0.001) were predictors of poor outcome. A preoperative McCormick grade ≥ III and Kesselring grade ≥ 2 were associated with worse outcomes (p = 0.035 and p = 0.002, respectively). Myxopapillary ependymoma (MPE) was more frequent than grade II ependymoma (EII). The overall rate of gross-total resection (GTR) was 91.2% and rates were significantly higher for patients with EII (98%) than for those with MPE (84%) (p = 0.0074). On multivariate analysis, the only factor associated with GTR was the presence of a capsule (p = 0.011). Seventeen patients (13.7%) had recurrences (13 MPE, 4 EII; 76.4% vs 23.6%; p = 0.032). The extent of resection was the only factor associated with recurrence (p = 0.0023) and number of surgeries (p = 0.006). Differences in progression-free survival (PFS) were seen depending on the extent of resection at first operation (p < 0.001), subarachnoid seeding (p = 0.041), piecemeal resection (p = 0.004), and number of spine levels involved (3 [p = 0.016], 4 [p = 0.011], or ≥ 5 [p = 0.013]). At follow-up a higher proportion of EII than MPE patients were disease free (94.7% vs 77.7%; p = 0.007). The QOL results were inferior in almost all areas compared to a control group of subjects from the Italian general population. A McCormick grade ≥ 3 and repeated surgeries were associated with a worse QOL (p = 0.006 and p = 0.017).

CONCLUSIONS

An early diagnosis of CEE is important because larger tumors are associated with recurrences and worse functional neurological outcomes. Surgery should be performed with the aim of achieving an en bloc GTR. The histological subtype was not directly associated with recurrences, but some of the features more commonly encountered in MPEs were. The outcomes are in most cases favorable, but the mean QOL perception is inferior to that of the general population.

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Antonio Nicolato, Michele Longhi, Nicola Tommasi, Giuseppe Kenneth Ricciardi, Roberto Spinelli, Roberto Israel Foroni, Emanuele Zivelonghi, Simone Zironi, Stefano Dall’Oglio, Alberto Beltramello, and Mario Meglio

OBJECT

The goal of this study was to evaluate advantages, risks, and failures of Gamma Knife radiosurgery (GKRS) in a large series of pediatric and adolescent patients with cerebral arteriovenous malformations (cAVMs) who were followed up for at least 36 months.

METHODS

Since February 1993, 100 pediatric and adolescent patients (≤ 18 years of age) with cAVMs have undergone GKRS at the authors’ institution and were followed up for at least 36 months. Forty-six patients were boys and 54 were girls; the mean age was 12.8 years (range 3–18 years). Hemorrhage, either alone or combined with seizure, was the clinical onset in 70% of cases. The mean pre-GK cAVM volume was 2.8 ml; 92% of cAVMs were Spetzler-Martin (S-M) Grades I–III. Most lesions (94%) were in eloquent or deep-seated brain regions, according to S-M classification. The parameters for mean and range in treatment planning were prescription isodose 53.8% (40%–90%); prescription dose (PD) 20.2 Gy (9.0–26.4 Gy); maximal dose (MD) 37.8 Gy (18–50 Gy); and number of shots 4.7 (1–17). On the day of GKRS, stereotactic CT or stereotactic MRI and digital subtraction angiography were used.

RESULTS

Obliteration rate (OR) was angiographically documented in 75 of 84 cases (89.3%) after single-session GKRS, with actuarial ORs at 3 and 5 years of 68.0% and 88.1%, respectively. A repeat treatment was performed in 7 patients (6 with obliteration), and 16 patients with cAVMs underwent staged treatment (9 of them were angiographically cured). Thus, the overall OR was 90%, with actuarial ORs at 3, 5, and 8 years of 59.0%, 76.0%, and 85.0%, respectively. Permanent symptomatic GK-related complications were observed in 11% of cases, with surgical removal of enlarged mass seen on post-RS imaging needed in 5 cases. Hemorrhage during the latency period occurred in 9% of patients, but surgical evacuation of the hematoma was required in only 1 patient. One patient died due to rebleeding of a brainstem cAVM. Radiosurgery outcomes varied according to cAVM sizes and doses: volumes ≤ 10 ml and PDs > 16 Gy were significantly associated with higher ORs and lower rates of permanent complication and bleeding during the latency period.

CONCLUSIONS

The data from this study reinforce the conclusion that GKRS is a safe and effective treatment for pediatric and adolescent cAVMs, yielding a high OR with minimal permanent severe morbidity and no mortality. The very low frequency of severe hemorrhages during the latency period further encourages a widespread application of RS in such patients. Univariate analysis found that modified RS-based cAVM score, nidus volume, PD, integral dose, S-M grade, and preplanned treatment (the last 2 parameters were also confirmed on multivariate analysis) significantly influenced OR. Lower S-M grades and single-session planned treatments correlated with shorter treatment obliteration interval on univariate analysis. This statistical analysis suggests that a staged radiosurgical treatment should be planned when nidus volume > 10 ml and/or when the recommended PD is ≤ 16 Gy.