Surgical Technique for Ependymoma of the Spine – Posterior Approach

Diagnosis and Patient Evaluation

Ependymoma of the spine is diagnosed through imaging studies such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scans. Patient evaluation includes assessing general health, neurological status, and other factors that may impact the surgical approach.

Preoperative Planning

Review of imaging studies in detail to determine the location, size, and extent of the tumor. Optimal surgical approach is planned based on tumor characteristics, patient factors, and surgeon expertise.

Anesthesia and Patient Positioning

The patient is placed under general anesthesia, and positioned in the prone (face-down) position on the operating table to provide adequate exposure of the spine for the posterior approach.

Skin Incision and Exposure

A midline incision is made in the back over the affected spinal segment. Muscles and soft tissues are carefully dissected to expose the vertebral lamina, which may be removed to access the tumor.

Tumor Resection

Once the tumor is visualized, the surgeon carefully removes it while preserving the surrounding healthy spinal cord tissue. This requires meticulous dissection and careful monitoring of the spinal cord function during surgery to minimize the risk of damage to the nervous tissue.

Hemostasis and Closure

Bleeding is carefully controlled using surgical techniques, and the wound is closed using appropriate sutures or staples. Hemostasis is crucial to minimize the risk of postoperative bleeding.

Postoperative Care

The patient is closely monitored in the intensive care unit (ICU) or a specialized neurosurgical ward. Pain management, wound care, and early mobilization are important aspects of postoperative care. Physical and occupational therapy may also be initiated to help the patient regain strength and function.

Risks and Complications

Like any surgical procedure, surgery for ependymoma of the spine via the posterior approach carries risks and potential complications, including infection, bleeding, nerve injury, spinal cord damage, and complications related to anesthesia. The risk of complications can be minimized through careful patient selection, meticulous surgical technique, and postoperative monitoring.


The posterior approach is a common surgical technique for resecting ependymomas of the spine, with careful preoperative planning, precise surgical technique, and diligent postoperative care being crucial for successful outcomes.


Intramedullary Ependymomas

• Clinical features of intramedullary ependymomas are variable
• Classic central cord syndrome is infrequent
• Early symptoms are usually non-specific and may subtly progress
• Symptom duration prior to diagnosis is often 3-4 years, although intratumoral hemorrhage may lead to rapid decline

Sensory Symptoms

• Sensory symptoms are the earliest to present in up to 70% of patients
• Dysesthesias are particularly common
• Painful aching sensations localized to the tumor site are rarely radicular
• Distribution and progression of symptoms depend on tumor location
• Upper extremity symptoms predominate with cervical tumors
• Thoracic cord tumors produce spasticity and sensory disturbances in the lower extremities

Numbness and Weakness

• Numbness is a common complaint and typically begins distally in the legs with proximal progression
• Tumors of the lumbar enlargement often present with back and leg pain, which may be radicular
• Urogenital and anorectal dysfunction tend to occur early
• Weakness usually occurs late in disease progression, is usually asymmetric and indicates significant thinning of the surrounding spinal cord


• MRI with gadolinium contrast is the imaging modality of choice
• Ependymomas are homogeneously enhancing lesions
• May be associated with syringomyelia or cysts
• Discreteness of the lesion is a characteristic feature


• Intramedullary ependymomas have variable clinical presentations
• Sensory symptoms are the most common early complaint
• Weakness usually indicates significant thinning of the surrounding spinal cord
• MRI with gadolinium contrast is the imaging modality of choice for diagnosis


Ultrasonic Aspirator in Spinal Cord Tumor Surgery.

Introduction: Welcome to the presentation on the use of ultrasonic aspirator in surgery for spinal cord tumors, specifically focusing on ependymomas

What is ependymoma?

Definition: Ependymoma is a type of brain or spinal cord tumor that arises from ependymal cells.
Location: Ependymomas can occur at various levels of the spinal cord, including cervical, thoracic, and lumbar regions.
Characteristics: Ependymomas are typically slow-growing tumors that can compress the spinal cord, causing neurological symptoms.

Ultrasonic Aspirator Overview

Definition: An ultrasonic aspirator is a surgical tool that uses ultrasonic energy to fragment and remove tumor tissue.
Function: Ultrasonic aspirators break down tumor tissue into smaller pieces, which can be aspirated or suctioned out.
Benefits: Ultrasonic aspirators offer precise tissue removal, tissue preservation, hemostasis, and can be used in minimally invasive approaches.

Tumor Resection

Importance: Ultrasonic aspirators are effective in debulking or removing tumor tissue from the spinal cord.
Technique: Ultrasonic energy emitted by the aspirator helps to break down the tumor, allowing for precise removal while minimizing damage to healthy tissue.
Hemostasis: Ultrasonic aspirators provide coagulation of blood vessels, which helps control bleeding during surgery.

Tissue Preservation

Importance: Preservation of normal tissue and neural structures is crucial in spinal cord tumor surgery.
Selectivity: Ultrasonic aspirators selectively target and remove tumor tissue while preserving normal healthy tissue.
Patient Outcomes: Tissue preservation helps minimize postoperative complications and optimize patient outcomes.


Importance: Precise tissue removal is critical in spinal cord surgery to avoid damage to surrounding structures.
Controlled Approach: Ultrasonic aspirators provide controlled tissue removal, allowing surgeons to precisely remove tumor tissue while minimizing the risk of complications.
Improved Visibility: Precise removal of tumor tissue improves visibility for the surgeon, facilitating safe and effective tumor resection.

Minimally Invasive Approach

Benefits: Ultrasonic aspirators can be used in minimally invasive spinal surgery, such as endoscopic or keyhole approaches.
Reduced Trauma: Minimally invasive approaches result in smaller incisions, reduced tissue trauma, and faster recovery times compared to traditional open surgery.
Versatility: Ultrasonic aspirators are versatile and can be used in various surgical approaches, making them suitable for different types of spinal cord tumors, including ependymomas.

Safety Considerations

Expertise: The use of ultrasonic aspirators should be performed by experienced surgeons who are well-versed in their appropriate usage and safety precautions.
Patient Selection: Patient selection should be carefully considered to ensure optimal outcomes and minimize risks.
Follow-up Care: Proper postoperative care and monitoring are essential for patient recovery and long-term outcomes.


Ultrasonic aspirators are valuable tools in spinal cord tumor surgery, including for ependymomas, providing precise tumor resection, tissue preservation, hemostasis, and versatility.


How to diagnose Spinal Cord EpendymomaIntroduction

How to diagnose Spinal Cord Ependymoma​


Ependymoma is a very common tumor of the spinal cord​

I will try to explain you how is spinal cord ependymoma diagnosed​

This video is for non-medical persons who are either patients or their relatives and looking to know how is ependymoma diagnosed with radiology​

MRI Imaging​

MRI is a non-invasive imaging modality that uses magnetic resonance to visualize the spinal cord and surrounding tissues.​

MRI is the preferred imaging method for evaluating spinal cord ependymoma due to its ability to provide detailed images of soft tissues, including the spinal cord and the tumor itself.

Tumor Location​

Spinal cord ependymomas usually arise from the ependymal cells lining the central canal of the spinal cord.​

They are commonly found in the cervical and thoracic regions of the spinal cord.​

 Tumor Appearance​

Spinal cord ependymomas typically appear as well-defined, intramedullary (within the spinal cord) lesions on MRI.​

They have a characteristic appearance of a well-circumscribed mass that is isointense or hypointense on T1-weighted images, and hyperintense on T2-weighted images.​

 Enhancement Pattern​

Spinal cord ependymomas often show heterogeneous enhancement with contrast administration on post-contrast MRI images.​

This means that some parts of the tumor may take up contrast more than others, which can help differentiate it from other types of spinal cord tumors.​

 Other Imaging Features​

Spinal cord ependymomas may exhibit other imaging features on MRI, such as cystic areas within the tumor, calcifications, or peritumoral edema (swelling around the tumor).​

These features can provide additional information for diagnosis and treatment planning.​


In conclusion, MRI plays a crucial role in evaluating spinal cord ependymoma.​

The MRI imaging features, including tumor location, appearance, enhancement pattern, and other relevant imaging features, can aid in the diagnosis and treatment planning of this condition.​

But the final and definitive diagnosis is done by microscopic examination of the tumor.


Ependymoma of the Spine: Treatment Approach


Definition of Ependymoma: A type of primary central nervous system tumor that arises from ependymal cells, which line the ventricles and central canal of the spinal cord. 

Incidence and Location: Ependymoma of the spine is a rare tumor, accounting for approximately 10% of all spinal cord tumors. It can occur at any level of the spinal cord, but most commonly found in the cervical and thoracic regions.

Treatment Goals:

The primary goals of treating ependymoma of the spine are to achieve complete tumor removal, preserve neurological function, and prevent tumor recurrence.

Treatment Options


Surgery is the mainstay of treatment for ependymoma of the spine, aiming for complete tumor resection whenever feasible. 

It may involve laminectomy, hemilaminectomy, or more extensive approaches depending on the tumor location and size. 

In some cases, a spinal fusion may be performed to stabilize the spine after tumor removal.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy may be used in conjunction with surgery or as a primary treatment modality for ependymoma of the spine. 

It is typically delivered postoperatively to the tumor bed and surrounding areas to target any residual tumor cells and reduce the risk of recurrence.


Chemotherapy is not typically used as a primary treatment for ependymoma of the spine, but it may be considered in certain cases, especially for recurrent or metastatic tumors.  

Commonly used chemotherapy agents include vincristine, cisplatin, and etoposide.


Rehabilitation plays a crucial role in the overall management of patients with ependymoma of the spine.  

Physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other rehabilitation interventions may be utilized to improve functional outcomes, manage pain, and optimize quality of life.


Summary: Ependymoma of the spine is a rare tumor that requires a multidisciplinary approach for optimal management. 

Treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy, with the goal of achieving complete tumor resection, preserving neurological function, and preventing recurrence. 

Importance of Rehabilitation: Rehabilitation plays a crucial role in the overall management of patients with ependymoma of the spine to optimize functional outcomes and quality of life. 

Importance of Follow-Up: Regular follow-up is essential for monitoring tumor recurrence and managing potential treatment-related complications.

  • · Final Thoughts 

Treatment decisions for ependymoma of the spine should be individualized based on the specific characteristics of the tumor and the overall health status of the patient, and should be made in consultation with a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals.


Survival Rates for Spinal Cord Ependymoma

Definition: Spinal cord ependymoma is a type of tumor that originates from the ependymal cells in the spinal cord. 

Importance: Understanding the survival rates for spinal cord ependymoma can provide insight into the prognosis and outcomes associated with this condition. 

Note: Survival rates are statistical estimates and individual outcomes may vary.

Factors Affecting Survival Rates

Tumor Grade: The grade of the spinal cord ependymoma is a significant factor affecting survival rates. Grade I ependymomas are typically considered benign and have a more favorable prognosis compared to grade II and grade III ependymomas.

Surgical Resection: The extent of surgical resection, or the complete removal of the tumor, can impact survival rates. Higher rates of complete surgical resection are associated with better outcomes. 

Patient Age and Health: Patient age and overall health can also impact survival rates, with younger and healthier patients generally having better prognosis.

Survival Rates for Grade I Spinal Cord Ependymoma

Grade I ependymomas are considered benign and have a relatively favorable prognosis. 

5-Year Survival Rate: The 5-year survival rate for grade I spinal cord ependymoma with complete surgical resection is reported to be around 80-90%. 

Note: Other factors, such as tumor location and patient-specific factors, may also influence survival rates in individual cases.

Survival Rates for Grade II and Grade III Spinal Cord Ependymoma

Grade II ependymomas are intermediate-grade tumors, while grade III ependymomas are considered malignant. 

5-Year Survival Rate: The 5-year survival rate for grade II spinal cord ependymoma may range from 60-80% with complete surgical resection. The 5-year survival rate for grade III spinal cord ependymoma may range from 30-60% even with aggressive treatment. 

Note: Other factors, such as tumor characteristics, treatment approach, and patient-specific factors, may also influence survival rates in individual cases.


Spinal cord ependymomas generally have a relatively favorable prognosis compared to ependymomas in other locations of the central nervous system. 

Factors such as tumor grade, extent of surgical resection, and patient-specific factors can impact survival rates. 

It’s crucial to consult with a qualified healthcare professional for accurate prognosis and personalized treatment recommendations based on individual circumstances. 

Regular follow-up and monitoring are important for detecting any signs of recurrence or complications.

Medical disclaimer

It’s important to work closely with a qualified healthcare team for accurate prognosis, treatment, and management of spinal cord ependymoma or any other medical condition. This PowerPoint presentation provides a general overview and should not be considered as medical advice.

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