Tanycytic ependymoma: highlighting challenges in radio-pathological diagnosis

Indian J Pathol Microbiol. 2021 Oct-Dec;64(4):633-637. doi: 10.4103/IJPM.IJPM_1049_20.


Background: Tanycytic ependymoma (TE) (WHO grade II) is a rare and morphologically distinct variant of ependymoma with only 77 cases reported worldwide so far. Variable clinical and radio-pathological features lead to misdiagnosis as WHO grade 1 tumors. On imaging, differentials of either schwannoma, meningioma, low-grade glial (like angiocentric glioma), or myxopapillary ependymoma are considered. In this study, we aim to discuss clinical, radiological, and pathological features of TE from our archives.

Method: We report clinicopathological aspects of six cases of TE from archives of tertiary care center between 2016 and 2018. Detailed histological assessment in terms of adequate tissue sampling and immunohistochemistry was done for each case.

Result: The patient's age ranged between 10 and 53 years with a slight male predilection. Intraspinal location was seen in two cases (intramedullary and extramedullary), three cases were cervicomedullary (intramedullary), and one was intracranial. One case was associated with neurofibromatosis type 2. Four cases mimicked as either schwannoma or low-grade glial tumor on squash smears. On imaging, ependymoma as differential was kept in only two cases and misclassified remaining either as low-grade glial or schwannoma.

Discussion: In initial published reports, the spine is the most common site (50.4%) followed by intracranial (36.4%) and cervicomedullary (3.9%). They have also highlighted the challenges in diagnosing them intraoperatively and radiologically. Treatment is similar to conventional ependymoma if diagnosed accurately. A multidisciplinary approach with the integration of neurosurgeon, neuroradiologist, and neuropathologist is required for accurate diagnosis and better treatment of patients.

Keywords: Conventional ependymoma; gross total resection; subtotal resection; tanycytic ependymoma.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Child
  • Ependymoma / diagnosis*
  • Ependymoma / diagnostic imaging
  • Ependymoma / physiopathology*
  • Ependymoma / therapy*
  • Female
  • Histological Techniques
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial / diagnostic imaging
  • Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial / physiopathology*
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Young Adult