Intramedullary spinal cord tumors in patients older than 50 years of age: management and outcome analysis.

Raj K. Shrivastava, Fred J. Epstein, Noel I. Perin, Kalmon D. Post, George I. Jallo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECT: Intramedullary spinal cord tumors (IMSCTs) in the older-age adult population pose complex management issues regarding the extent of resection and functional outcome, especially in terms of quality of life. Historically, IMSCTs in the older adult population were treated with irradiation alone because it was assumed that functional recovery would be poor. The authors examined their IMSCT database and report the first large series of IMSCTs in patients older than 50 years of age. METHODS: In this retrospective clinical and chart review there were 30 cases meeting inclusion criteria drawn from databases at three different institutions. A modified McCormick Scale was used to assess functional levels in all 30 patients pre- and postoperatively. The mean age of patients in this cohort was 59.8 years (range 50-78 years), and the mean follow-up period was 10.6 years (range 2-16 years). Ependymoma was the most common tumor (83%), and 55% were located in the thoracic spine. The most common presenting symptom was sensory dysesthesia, with rare motor loss. The prodromal period to treatment was 19.4 months. Based on the McCormick Scale score at last follow-up examination 67% of patients were clinically functionally the same, 9% were worse, and 24% were improved after surgery. There were two deaths due tumor progression (both malignant tumors) and one recurrence (anaplastic astrocytoma). All three patients in whom malignant astrocytomas were diagnosed underwent postoperative radiation therapy. CONCLUSIONS: In the population of patients older than age 50 years, thoracic ependymomas are the most common IMSCTs that present characteristically with sensory symptoms. The longer prodromal period in the older adult population may reflect the fact that their diagnosis and workup is inadequate. There was no significant increase in the length of stay in the neurosurgical ward. The authors recommend motor evoked potential-guided aggressive microsurgical resection, because the long-term outcome of benign lesions is excellent (good functional recovery and no tumor recurrence).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-255
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of neurosurgery. Spine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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