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Prognosis by tumor location for pediatric spinal cord ependymomas.



Ependymoma is a common CNS tumor in children, with spinal cord ependymomas making up 13.1% of all ependymomas in this age group. The clinical features that affect prognosis in pediatric spinal cord ependymomas are not well understood. A comprehensive literature review was performed to determine whether a tumor location along the spinal cord is prognostically significant in children undergoing surgery for spinal cord ependymomas.


A PubMed search was performed to identify all papers that contained data on patients with spinal cord ependymomas. Only pediatric patients (age < 18 years) who underwent resection with a clearly reported tumor location were included in the analysis. Myxopapillary tumors were excluded from study. Tumor location was subdivided into 6 regions: cervicomedullary, cervical, cervicothoracic, thoracic, thoracolumbar, and conus medullaris. Kaplan-Meier survival and Cox regression analyses were performed to determine the effects of tumor location on progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS).


Fifty-eight patients who underwent resection of spinal cord ependymomas were identified. Ependymomas were located all along the spinal cord but occurred with the highest frequency in the cervical region (29.3%). Progression-free survival was significantly better in patients with tumors arising in the upper portion of the spinal cord (p = 0.031), which remained significant in the multivariate Cox regression analysis (p < 0.05). Moreover, OS was significantly better in patients with upper spinal cord ependymomas than in those harboring ependymomas in the lower spinal cord (p = 0.048).


Although more common in adults, spinal ependymomas can occur anywhere along the spinal cord in the pediatric population; however, tumors occurring in the lower half of the spinal cord carry a worse prognosis with shorter PFS and OS. By comparison, ependymomas in the upper spinal cord recur later and less frequently, with little or no mortality in this patient group.

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