Ependymoma is a tumor that arises from the ependyma, a tissue of the central nervous system. Usually, in pediatric cases the location is intracranial, while in adults it is spinal. The common location of intracranial ependymoma is the fourth ventricle. Rarely, ependymoma can occur in the pelvic cavity.
Syringomyelia can be caused by an ependymoma. Ependymomas are also seen with neurofibromatosis type II
- severe headache
- visual loss (due to papilledema)
- bilateral Babinski sign
- drowsiness (after several hours of the above symptoms)
- gait change (rotation of feet when walking)
- back flexibility
As with most brain tumours, the cause of ependymomas is unknown. Research is being carried out into possible causes.
The following tests and procedures may be used:
CT scan (CAT scan):
A procedure that makes a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body, taken from different angles. The pictures are made by a computer linked to an x-ray machine. A dye may be injected into a vein or swallowed to help the organs or tissues show up more clearly. This procedure is also called computed tomography, computerized tomography, or computerized axial tomography.
MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) with gadolinium:
A procedure that uses a magnet, radio waves, and a computer to make a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the brain and spinal cord. A substance called gadolinium is injected into the patient through a vein. The gadolinium collects around the cancer cells so they show up brighter in the picture. This procedure is also called nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMRI).
The prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options depend on:
- Whether cancer cells remain after surgery.
- The type of ependymoma and where it is found in the brain.
- The age of the child when the tumor is diagnosed.
- Whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the central nervous system, such as the meninges (membranes covering the brain) and the spinal cord.
The treatment for an ependymoma depends on a number of things, including your general health, the size and position of the tumour, and whether it has spread to other parts of the brain or spinal cord. The results of your tests will enable your doctor to decide on the best plan for your treatment. There are some risks associated with treatment to the brain and your doctor will discuss these with you.