Study design: Retrospective case series. Objective: To evaluate our recent treatment strategy for intramedullary spinal cord tumors. Setting: Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Keio University, Japan. Methods: We reviewed 68 cases of intramedullary tumors (ependymoma, 33; astrocytoma, 23; hemangioblastoma, 12), treated surgically between 1994 and 2003. There were 42 males and 26 females whose mean age at the time of surgery was 43 years. The mean follow-up period was 6.2 years. The tumor malignancy grade according to the WHO classification was astrocytoma grade I, 3; grade II, 8 (low-grade: 11 cases); grade III, 10; grade IV, 2 (high-grade: 12 cases). All ependymomas were grade II. Three of the 12 hemangioblastomas were associated with von Hippel-Lindau disease. Results: Total excision was achieved in 90% of the ependymomas and functional improvement was obtained when the preoperative neurological deficit was mild. Approximately 50% of low-grade astrocytomas could be totally excised with favorable survival outcomes, suggesting that total excision should be attempted for low-grade astrocytomas. However, total excision of high-grade tumors was difficult and the functional outcomes were poor. Cordotomy should be considered in patients with a thoracic high-grade astrocytoma. Total resection was possible in 92% of hemangioblastoma, and the functional outcomes were good, however, more attention should be paid for tumors with feeding arteries on the ventral side and for those associated with von Hippel-Lindau disease. Conclusions: Predictors of good surgical outcome for intramedullary spinal cord tumors were histological grades of the tumors, surgical margins, and neurological status of the patient before surgery.
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