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16.03.2016 | Original Article | Ausgabe 12/2016 Open Access

European Spine Journal 12/2016

A retrospective observational study on the treatment outcomes of 26 patients with spinal cord astrocytoma including two cases of malignant transformation

European Spine Journal > Ausgabe 12/2016
Seong Jun Ryu, Jong Yul Kim, Kyung Hyun Kim, Jeong Yoon Park, Sung Uk Kuh, Dong Kyu Chin, Keun Su Kim, Yong Eun Cho, Se Hoon Kim



To determine the biologic behavior and prognostic factors of spinal cord astrocytoma, we reviewed surgical and clinical outcomes. Due to the rarity of spinal cord astrocytoma, there is a lack of research regarding this type of tumor and malignant transformation.


We retrospectively reviewed the data from all patients on whom we performed spinal cord tumor removal between 1983 and 2014. Twenty-six patients were pathologically confirmed to have spinal cord astrocytoma or glioblastoma. Surgical extent and disease progression were confirmed by the surgeon based on operative findings, postoperative MRI, and outpatient department (OPD) follow-up.


Pain or neurological deficit was the chief complaint for all patients. With MRI studies, there is a tendency for high-grade astrocytomas to show as enhanced and heterogeneous images. Two of the low-grade astrocytomas showed malignant transformation over the course of 4 and 11 months, respectively. The overall survival (OS) for low-grade astrocytoma was 28–480 months (mean 156.38 months); the OS for high-grade astrocytoma was 1–36 months (mean 12.00 months).


Two of 12 low-grade cases showed malignant transformations at 4 and 11 months, respectively, based on pathological confirmation. With spinal cord astrocytomas, enhanced MRI results appeared similar to those of a malignant lesion. We suggest close observation and image correlation of low-grade astrocytomas, even when pathologically confirmed as low-grade. In this review, we found that histologic grade is the most important prognostic factor, although it is not always concordant with biologic behaviors.

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