MRI characteristics and resectability in spinal cord glioma

Clin Neurol Neurosurg. 2021 Jan:200:106321. doi: 10.1016/j.clineuro.2020.106321. Epub 2020 Oct 19.


Objective: The histopathology of intramedullary spinal cord tumors (IMSCT) can be suspected from the MRI features and characteristics. Ultimately, the confirmation of diagnosis requires surgery. This retrospective study addresses MRI features including homogeneity of enhancement, margination, and associated syrinx in intramedullary astrocytomas (IMA) and ependymomas (IME) that assist in diagnosis and predict resectability of these tumors.

Methods: Single-center retrospective analysis of IMA and IME cases since 2005 extracted from the departmental registry/electronic medical records post IRB approval (IRB 201,710,760). We compared imaging findings (enhancement, margination, homogeneity, and associated syrinxes) between tumor types and examined patient outcomes.

Results: There were 18 IME and 21 IMA. On preoperative MRI, IME was favored to have homogenous enhancement (OR 1.8, p = 0.0001), well-marginated (p < 0.0001, OR 0.019 [95 % CI 0.002-0.184]), and associated syrinx (p = 0.015, OR 0.192 [95 % CI 0.049-0.760]). Total excision, subtotal excision, and biopsy were performed in 12, 5, and 1 patients in the IME cohort, respectively. In the IMA group, tumors were heterogeneous and poorly marginated in 20 of the 21 patients. Total excision, subtotal excision, and biopsy were undertaken in 2, 13, and 6 patients, respectively. The success of excision was predicted by MRI, with a significant difference in the extent of resection between IME and IMA (X2 = 14.123, p = 0.001). In terms of outcome, ordinal regression analysis showed that well-margined tumors and those with homogeneous enhancement were associated with a better postoperative McCormick score. Extent of resection had statistically significant survival (p = 0.026) and recurrence-free survival (p = 0.008) benefits.

Conclusion: The imaging characteristics of IME and IMA have meaningful clinical significance. Homogeneity, margination, and associated syrinxes in IME can predict resectability and complexity of surgery.

Keywords: MRI; Spinal cord astrocytoma; Spinal cord ependymoma.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cervical Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging
  • Cervical Vertebrae / surgery
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Glioma / diagnostic imaging*
  • Glioma / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / methods*
  • Preoperative Care / methods
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spinal Cord Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Spinal Cord Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Thoracic Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging
  • Thoracic Vertebrae / surgery
  • Young Adult