Although there is no formal staging system, ependymomas can be divided into supratentorial, infratentorial, and spinal tumors. In children, approximately 30% of childhood ependymomas arise in supratentorial regions of the brain and 70% in the posterior fossa.[1,2,3] They usually originate in the ependymal linings of ventricles or central canal or ventriculus terminalis of the spinal cord, and have access to the cerebral spinal fluid (CSF). Therefore, these tumors may spread throughout the neuraxis, although dissemination is noted in less than 10% of patients with Grade II and Grade III ependymomas. Myxopapillary ependymomas are more likely to disseminate to the nervous system early in the course of illness. Every patient with ependymoma should be evaluated with diagnostic imaging of the spinal cord and whole brain. This is ideally done prior to surgery to avoid confusion with postoperative blood. The most sensitive method available for evaluating spinal cord subarachnoid metastasis is spinal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) performed with gadolinium. If MRI is used, the entire spine is generally imaged in at least two planes with contiguous MRI slices performed after gadolinium enhancement. In addition, CSF cytological evaluation should be conducted. While a number of factors have sometimes been associated with an unfavorable outcome (younger age at diagnosis, lower doses of radiation, anaplastic histology, subtotal resection, higher proliferation marker, MIB-1 labeling index), age, histology, and extent of resection have consistently been the most important factors.[1,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11]; [Level of evidence: 3iiiDi]; [Level of evidence: 3iiiDii] Primary spinal cord ependymomas have a more favorable outcome than cranial variants.
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Tihan T, Zhou T, Holmes E, et al.: The prognostic value of histological grading of posterior fossa ependymomas in children: a Children's Oncology Group study and a review of prognostic factors. Mod Pathol 21 (2): 165-77, 2008.
Tamburrini G, D'Ercole M, Pettorini BL, et al.: Survival following treatment for intracranial ependymoma: a review. Childs Nerv Syst 25 (10): 1303-12, 2009.
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