Spinal cord subependymoma

Spinal cord subependymoma

spinal cord subependymoma (SCSE) is a benign, non-invasive, slow-growing, WHO Grade I spinal cord tumor 1), first reported by Boykin et al. in 19542).


Their most common site of occurrence is the fourth ventriclefollowed by the lateral ventricles. Spinal cord subependymomas typically manifest as cervical and cervicothoracic intramedullary or, rarely, extramedullary mass lesions.


Histologically, there are hypocellular areas with occasional clusters of cells and frequent microcystic changes, calcifications, and hemorrhage. Radiologically, subependymomas generally manifest as eccentric well circumscribed nodular lesions with mild-to-moderate enhancement.

Clinical features

They often present clinically with pain and neurologic symptoms, including motor, sensory, urinary, and sexual dysfunction.


Toi et al., made an important discovery of what seems to be a characteristic appearance for spinal subependymoma on sagittal MRI. Swelling of the spinal cord is extremely steep, providing unusually large fusiform dilatation resembling a bamboo leaf. They termed this characteristic MRI appearance as the “bamboo leaf sign.” This characteristic was apparent in 76.2% of cases of spinal subependymoma for which MRI findings were reported. Conclusion. The bamboo leaf sign on spinal MRI is useful for differentiating between subependymoma and other intramedullary tumors. Neurosurgeons encountering the bamboo leaf sign on spinal MRI should consider the possibility of subependymoma 3).

Differential diagnosis

It is not easily differentiable from a spinal cord ependymoma with radiological findings.


Spinal cord subependymomas are not dissected easily from the spinal cord. Considering the rather indolent nature of spinal cord subependymomas, subtotal removal without the risk of neurological deficit is another option 4).


Surgical findings and outcomes differ from those of an ependymoma, including a high risk of neurological deficit in the event of a poor dissection plane from the spinal cord with a low rate of recurrence.

Case series

Mikula et al., present a series of spinal cord subependymomas with a detailed description of the clinical, radiological and pathological features, and characterization by chromosomal microarray analysis. Briefly, the four patients included two men and two women, between the ages of 22 and 48 years. The most common presenting symptoms were neck and arm pain with upper extremity weakness. By imaging, the tumors were found to involve multiple spinal levels, including cervical/ cervico-thoracic (three patients) and thoracic (one patient), were all eccentric, and had minimal to no post-contrast enhancement. Two patients underwent gross total resection, one had a sub-total resection, and one underwent biopsy alone with a decompressive laminectomy. Follow up ranged from 6 months to 22 years. One patient (case 4) had recurrence 15 years following gross total resection and chromosomal microarray analysis revealed deletions on the long arm of chromosome 6. Our limited series suggests that spinal cord subependymomas can rarely recur, even following gross total resection, suggesting a possible role for long-term surveillance for these rare tumors5).

Yuh et al., retrospectively reviewed the medical records of ten spinal cord subependymoma patients (M : F=4 : 6; median 38 years; range, 21-77) from four institutions.

The most common symptoms were sensory changes and/or pain in eight patients, followed by motor weakness in six. The median duration of symptoms was 9.5 months. Preoperative radiological diagnosis was ependymoma in seven and astrocytoma in three. The tumors were located eccentrically in six and were not enhanced in six. Gross total resection of the tumor was achieved in five patients, whereas subtotal or partial resection was inevitable in the other five patients due to a poor dissection plane. Adjuvant radiotherapy was performed in two patients. Neurological deterioration occurred in two patients; transient weakness in one after subtotal resection and permanent weakness after gross total resection in the other. Recurrence or regrowth of the tumor was not observed during the median 31.5 months follow-up period (range, 8-89).

Spinal cord subependymoma should be considered when the tumor is located eccentrically and is not dissected easily from the spinal cord. Considering the rather indolent nature of spinal cord subependymomas, subtotal removal without the risk of neurological deficit is another option 6).

Case reports

A 51-year-old man presented with a 2-year history of progressive muscle weakness in the right lower extremity. Sagittal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed spinal cord expansion at the Th7-12 vertebral level. Surgical resection was performed and the tumor was found to involve predominantly subpial growth. Histological diagnosis was subependymoma, classified as Grade I according to criteria of World Health Organization. They made an important discovery of what seems to be a characteristic appearance for spinal subependymoma on sagittal MRI. Swelling of the spinal cord is extremely steep, providing unusually large fusiform dilatation resembling a bamboo leaf. They termed this characteristic MRI appearance as the “bamboo leaf sign.” This characteristic was apparent in 76.2% of cases of spinal subependymoma for which MRI findings were reported. Conclusion. The bamboo leaf sign on spinal MRI is useful for differentiating between subependymoma and other intramedullary tumors. Neurosurgeons encountering the bamboo leaf sign on spinal MRI should consider the possibility of subependymoma 7).

A case report of a single patient in whom a subependymoma was resected from the cervical spinal cord with return to normal functioning.

Clinical examination, magnetic resonance imaging evaluation, surgical resection, and histological analysis were performed for diagnosis and treatment of this patient.

The patient experiencing myelopathy symptoms underwent a surgical resection of cervical spinal cord subependymoma that resulted in return to normal function.

Subependymoma should be included in the differential diagnosis of atypical presentations for myelopathy, as discrete surgical resection can result in good outcome 8).

A 53 year old man with a progressive paraparesis, paraesthesias of the lower limbs and sphincter disturbance. The tumour was partly removed, without progression 5 years after surgery 9).



Im SH, Paek SH, Choi YL, Chi JG, Kim DG, Jung HW, Cho BK. Clinicopathological study of seven cases of symptomatic supratentorial subependymoma. J Neurooncol. 2003 Jan;61(1):57-67. PubMed PMID: 12587796.

BOYKIN FC, COWEN D, IANNUCCI CA, WOLF A. Subependymal glomerate astrocytomas. J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 1954 Jan;13(1):30-49. PubMed PMID: 13118373.
3) , 7)

Toi H, Ogawa Y, Kinoshita K, Hirai S, Takai H, Hara K, Matsushita N, Matsubara S, Uno M. Bamboo Leaf Sign as a Sensitive Magnetic Resonance Imaging Finding in Spinal Subependymoma: Case Report and Literature Review. Case Rep Neurol Med. 2016;2016:9108641. doi: 10.1155/2016/9108641. Epub 2016 Dec 15. PubMed PMID: 28074165; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5198089.
4) , 6)

Yuh WT, Chung CK, Park SH, Kim KJ, Lee SH, Kim KT. Spinal Cord Subependymoma Surgery : A Multi-Institutional Experience. J Korean Neurosurg Soc. 2018 Mar;61(2):233-242. doi: 10.3340/jkns.2017.0405.001. Epub 2018 Feb 28. PubMed PMID: 29526067; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5853201.

Mikula AL, Paolini MA, Sukov WR, Clarke MJ, Raghunathan A. Subependymoma involving multiple spinal cord levels: A clinicopathological case series with chromosomal microarray analysis. Neuropathology. 2019 Mar 11. doi: 10.1111/neup.12543. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 30856298.

Cure LM, Hancock CR, Barrocas AM, Sternau LL, C Hirzel A. Interesting case of subependymoma of the spinal cord. Spine J. 2014 May 1;14(5):e9-12. doi: 10.1016/j.spinee.2013.10.056. Epub 2013 Nov 20. PubMed PMID: 24269267.

Dario A, Fachinetti P, Cerati M, Dorizzi A. Subependymoma of the spinal cord: case report and review of the literature. J Clin Neurosci. 2001 Jan;8(1):48-50. PubMed PMID: 11148079.

Spinal meningioma treatment

Spinal meningioma treatment

Radical resection of spinal meningiomas can be performed with good functional results. Extensive tumor calcification, especially in elderly patients proved to harbor an increased risk for surgical morbidity 1).

Onken et al., reported on their surgical experience that involves two institutions in which 207 patients underwent surgery for spinal meningiomas (sMNGs) . Special focus was placed on patients with sMNGs localized anterior to the denticulate ligament (aMNGs) that were treated via a unilateral posterior approach (ULPA).

The duration of surgery, extent of resection, and outcomes are comparable between aMNGs and posterior to the denticulate ligament (pMNGs) when removed via a ULPA. Thus, ULPA represents a safe route to achieve a gross-total resection, even in cases of aMNG 2).

Posterior approaches provide adequate exposure to safely remove ventrally located spinal meningioma. Posterior exposures with lateral bone resection, denticulate ligament division, provide also adequate exposure for safe removal 3).


After dural opening, a plane can be developed between the arachnoid and the tumor. The tumor is then internally debulked using suction, an ultrasonic surgical aspirator, microscissors, or laser.

After debulking, in the majority of cases the tumor can be rolled away from the spinal cord and toward its dural attachment.

The tumor is then removed from its dural attachment.

Dura with remaining tumor can be coagulated using bipolar cauterization or resected.

In the majority of cases, the dural attachment was cauterized rather than resected. The dural attachment was always cauterized in cases involving an anterior dural attachment. Additionally, in most cases the dura was closed primarily, compared with suturing in a graft, which was performed far less frequently

Another option was separation of the dura into an outer and inner layer and to resect the tumor with the inner layer, leaving the outer layer available for closure 4).




Sandalcioglu IE, Hunold A, Müller O, Bassiouni H, Stolke D, Asgari S. Spinal meningiomas: critical review of 131 surgically treated patients. Eur Spine J. 2008 Aug;17(8):1035-41. doi: 10.1007/s00586-008-0685-y. Epub 2008 May 15. PubMed PMID: 18481118; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2518757.

Onken J, Obermüller K, Staub-Bartelt F, Meyer B, Vajkoczy P, Wostrack M. Surgical management of spinal meningiomas: focus on unilateral posterior approach and anterior localization. J Neurosurg Spine. 2018 Dec 1:1-6. doi: 10.3171/2018.8.SPINE18198. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 30544344.

Notani N, Miyazaki M, Kanezaki S, Ishihara T, Kawano M, Tsumura H. Surgical management of ventrally located spinal meningiomas via posterior approach. Eur J Orthop Surg Traumatol. 2017 Feb;27(2):181-186. doi: 10.1007/s00590-016-1860-1. PubMed PMID: 27671472.

Gottfried ON, Gluf W, Quinones-Hinojosa A, Kan P, Schmidt MH. Spinal meningiomas: surgical management and outcome. Neurosurg Focus. 2003 Jun 15;14(6):e2. Review. PubMed PMID: 15669787.

Lumbar spinal stenosis case series

Lumbar spinal stenosis case series

Nine hundred and eighteen patients of the Acıbadem Fulya Hospital and Acıbadem Taksim Hospital were treated for single or multilevel lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) by bilateral decompression via unilateral approach (BDUA) between January 2002 and January 2016. 180 patients of the 918 underwent microdiscectomy with decompression. They were then followed up postoperatively, at 6 and 12 months with radiological investigations, Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) and 36-item short-form health survey (SF-36) tests.

Four hundred and ninety-two patients were females (53,6%), four hundred and twenty six were males (46,4) whose mean age was 63,83±10,16 (range: 43-79 years). Duration of symptoms ranged from 4 to 49 months. Average follow-up time was 98 months (range 25-168 months) and the reoperation rate (RR) was 2,5%. The ODI scores decreased significantly (30.65± 7.82, to 11.32 ± 2.50 at six months and 11.30 ± 2.49 at first year) and the SF-36 parameter scores demonstrated a significant improvement in the early and late follow-up results.

BDUA for LSS allowed a sufficient and safe decompression of the neural structures, resulted in a highly significant reduction of the symptoms and disability, acceptable RR, and improved health-related quality of life 1).

A successive series of 102 patients with lumbar spinal stenosis from Aachen (with and without previous lumbar surgery) were treated with decompression alone during a 3-year period. Data on pre- and postoperative back pain and leg pain (numerical rating scale [NRS] scale) were retrospectively collected from questionnaires with a return rate of 65% (n = 66). The complete cohort as well as patients with first-time surgery and re-decompression were analyzed separately. Patients were dichotomized to short-term follow-up (< 100 weeks) and long-term follow-up (> 100 weeks) postsurgery.

Overall, both back pain (NRS 4.59 postoperative versus 7.89 preoperative; p < 0.0001) and leg pain (NRS 4.09 versus 6.75; p < 0.0001) improved postoperatively. The short-term follow-up subgroup (50%, n = 33) showed a significant reduction in back pain (NRS 4.0 versus 6.88; p < 0.0001) and leg pain (NRS 2.49 versus 6.91: p < 0.0001). Similar results could be observed for the long-term follow-up subgroup (50%, n = 33) with significantly less back pain (NRS 3.94 versus 7.0; p < 0.0001) and leg pain (visual analog scale 3.14 versus 5.39; p < 0.002) postoperatively. Patients with previous decompression surgery benefit significantly regarding back pain (NRS 4.82 versus 7.65; p < 0.0024), especially in the long-term follow-up subgroup (NRS 4.75 versus 7.67; p < 0.0148). There was also a clear trend in favor of leg pain in patients with previous surgery; however, it was not significant.

Decompression of lumbar spinal stenosis without fusion led to a significant and similar reduction of back pain and leg pain in a short-term and a long-term follow-up group. Patients without previous surgery benefited significantly better, whereas patients with previous decompression benefited regarding back pain, especially for long-term follow-up with a clear trend in favor of leg pain 2).

A total of 25 patients between May 2015 and June 2016 affected by radiologically demonstrated one-level lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) with facet joint degeneration and grade I spondylolisthesis were included in this prospective study. All the patients underwent laminectomyforaminotomy, and one-level facet fixation (Facet-Link, Inc., Rockaway, New Jersey, United States). Pre- and postoperative clinical (Oswestry Disability Index[ODI], Short Form 36 [SF-36]) and radiologic (radiographs, magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography) data were collected and analyzed.

Mean follow-up was 12 months. The L4L5 level was involved in 18 patients (72%) and L5S1 in 7 patients (28%); the average operative time was 80 minutes (range: 65-148 minutes), and the mean blood loss was 160 mL (range: 90-200 mL). ODI and SF-36 showed a statistically significant (p < 0.05) improvement at last follow-up.

Transfacet fixation is a safe and effective treatment option in patients with single-level LSS, facet joint degeneration, and mild instability 3).


A retrospective matched-pair cohort study included a total of 144 patients who underwent surgery for bisegmental spinal stenosis at the levels L3-4 and L4-5 between 2008 and 2012. There were 72 matching pairs that corresponded in sex, year of birth, and width of the stenosed segments. The patients’ impairments were reported before, immediately after, and 6 and 12 months after surgery using the Oswestry Disability Questionnaire (ODQ-D) and the EuroQol-5D (EQ-5D). The data were evaluated statistically. Results The comparison of both surgical procedures regarding walking ability (walking a distance with and without a walking aid) revealed a significant difference. Patients who underwent hemilaminectomy had better postoperative results. The individual criteria of the ODQ-D and EQ-5D revealed no significant differences between 2-level fenestration and hemilaminectomy; however, there is always significant postoperative improvement in comparison with preoperative status. Age, sex, body mass index, comorbidities, smoking, and alcohol consumption had no influence on the surgical results. The reoperation rate was between 13% and 15% for both surgical techniques, not being significantly different. Conclusion Fenestration and hemilaminectomy are equivalent therapies for bisegmental lumbar spinal canal stenosis. Regarding walking, the study revealed better results for hemilaminectomy than for fenestration in this cohort of patients. Pain intensity, personal care, lifting and carrying of objects, sitting, social life, and travel all improved significantly postoperatively as compared with preoperatively. In both groups, health status as the decisive predictor improved considerably after surgery. We could show that both surgical methods result in significant postoperative improvement of all the individual criteria of the ODQ-D and the EQ-5D 4).


726 patients with lumbar stenosis (without spondylolisthesis or scoliosis) and a baseline back pain score ≥ 5 of 10 who underwent surgical decompression only. No patient was reported to have significant spondylolisthesis, scoliosis, or sagittal malalignment. Standard demographic and surgical variables were collected, as well as patient outcomes including back and leg pain scores, Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), and EuroQoL 5D (EQ-5D) at baseline and 3 and 12 months postoperatively. RESULTS The mean age of the cohort was 65.6 years, and 407 (56%) patients were male. The mean body mass index was 30.2 kg/m2, and 40% of patients had 2-level decompression, 29% had 3-level decompression, 24% had 1-level decompression, and 6% had 4-level decompression. The mean estimated blood loss was 130 ml. The mean operative time was 100.85 minutes. The vast majority of discharges (88%) were routine home discharges. At 3 and 12 months postoperatively, there were significant improvements from baseline for back pain (7.62 to 3.19 to 3.66), leg pain (7.23 to 2.85 to 3.07), EQ-5D (0.55 to 0.76 to 0.75), and ODI (49.11 to 27.20 to 26.38). CONCLUSIONS Through the 1st postoperative year, patients with lumbar stenosis-without spondylolisthesis, scoliosis, or sagittal malalignment-and clinically significant back pain improved after decompression-only surgery 5).


88 patients with LSS (47 men and 41 women) who ranged in age from 39 to 86 years (mean age 68.7 years). All patients had undergone microendoscopic laminotomy at Osaka City University Graduate School of Medicine from May 2008 through October 2012. The minimum duration of clinical and radiological follow-up was 6 months. All patients were evaluated by Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) and visual analog scale (VAS) scores for low back painleg pain, and leg numbness before and after surgery.

The distance between the C7 plumb line and the posterior corner of the sacrum (sagittal vertical axis [SVA]) was measured on lateral standing radiographs of the entire spine obtained before surgery.

Radiological factors and clinical outcomes were compared between patients with a preoperative SVA ≥ 50 mm (forward-bending trunk [F] group) and patients with a preoperative SVA < 50 mm (control [C] group).

A total of 35 patients were allocated to the F group (19 male and 16 female) and 53 to the C group (28 male and 25 female).

The mean SVA was 81.0 mm for patients in the F group and 22.0 mm for those in the C group. At final follow-up evaluation, no significant differences between the groups were found for the JOA score improvement ratio (73.3% vs 77.1%) or the VAS score for leg numbness (23.6 vs 24.0 mm); the VAS score for low-back pain was significantly higher for those in the F group (21.1 mm) than for those in the C group (11.0 mm); and the VAS score for leg pain tended to be higher for those in the F group (18.9 ± 29.1 mm) than for those in the C group (9.4 ± 16.0 mm).

Preoperative alignment of the spine in the sagittal plane did not affect JOA scores after microendoscopic laminotomy in patients with LSS. However, low-back pain was worse for patients with preoperative anterior translation of the C-7 plumb line than for those without 6).



Yüce İ, Kahyaoğlu O, Çavuşoğlu HA, Çavuşoğlu H, Aydın Y. Long term clinical outcome and reoperation rate for microsurgical bilateral decompression via unilateral approach of lumbar spinal stenosis. World Neurosurg. 2019 Jan 30. pii: S1878-8750(19)30203-7. doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2019.01.105. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 30710724.

Geiger MF, Bongartz N, Blume C, Clusmann H, Müller CA. Improvement of Back and Leg Pain after Lumbar Spinal Decompression without Fusion. J Neurol Surg A Cent Eur Neurosurg. 2018 Dec 5. doi: 10.1055/s-0038-1669473. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 30517963.

Trungu S, Pietrantonio A, Forcato S, Tropeano MP, Martino L, Raco A. Transfacet Screw Fixation for the Treatment of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis with Mild Instability: A Preliminary Study. J Neurol Surg A Cent Eur Neurosurg. 2018 Sep;79(5):358-364. doi: 10.1055/s-0038-1655760. Epub 2018 Jul 16. PubMed PMID: 30011420.

Schüppel J, Weber F. Retrospective Matched-Pair Cohort Study on Effect of Bisegmental Fenestration versus Hemilaminectomy for Bisegmental Spinal Canal Stenosis at L3-L4 and L4-L5. J Neurol Surg A Cent Eur Neurosurg. 2017 Jan 9. doi: 10.1055/s-0036-1597617. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 28068753.

Crawford CH 3rd, Glassman SD, Mummaneni PV, Knightly JJ, Asher AL. Back pain improvement after decompression without fusion or stabilization in patients with lumbar spinal stenosis and clinically significant preoperative back pain. J Neurosurg Spine. 2016 Nov;25(5):596-601. PubMed PMID: 27285666.

Dohzono S, Toyoda H, Matsumoto T, Suzuki A, Terai H, Nakamura H. The influence of preoperative spinal sagittal balance on clinical outcomes after microendoscopic laminotomy in patients with lumbar spinal canal stenosis. J Neurosurg Spine. 2015 Jul;23(1):49-54. doi: 10.3171/2014.11.SPINE14452. Epub 2015 Apr 3. PubMed PMID: 25840041.
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