Ependymoma is a tumor of the tissue of
the central nervous system. In most cases, it is a benign tumor (grade I), but sometimes it can be malignant
(cancerous) grade II or III and very serious. This disease can be located throughout the central nervous system,
from the bottom of the brain (intracranial) to the spinal cord. Age plays a major role on the location where the
tumor arises. For instance, in children the primary site is often intracranial (cerebral ependymoma), while it is spinal (Intramedullary ependymoma) in adults.
Cerebral Ependymoma – this type is when the tumor is in the brain. This form
of Ependymoma tends to cause certain problems. The most restrictive (for surgery) is located at the intersection
of the left and right ventricles (intraventricular), preventing the escape of cerebrospinal fluid and causing
intracranial hypertension, high pressure of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) within the
skull. Its removal may be accompanied by significant postoperative complications such as cerebral edema
and coma. In the worst case, and depending on the location of ependymoma, the effects are accompanied by chronic
epilepsy, aphasia (loss of speech) of recoverable as hemiplegia. In some cases, the amnesia is more or less
extensive and causes severe depression with suicidal tendencies.
Intramedullary Ependymoma - When the tumor is in the bone narrow, it causes nerve
compression. If it is in the cervical, these neurological disorders can affect the entire body, from sensitivity
problems [tingling, stiffness of the joints (ankylosis), motor disorders, sphincter, and
others] to total paralysis (quadriplegia). If it is at the level of the lumbar vertebrae (which is most often
the case) the damage will be smaller but no less painful (muscle weakness of the legs up to paralysis
(paraplegia), sensory disturbances, urinary pain radiating from the pelvis to the feet).
At the beginning the disease tends to make
its presence felt by persistent headaches, balance, vision and memory problems.
It may, at first glance, be confused with clinical depression (learn how to overcome depression safely) by some neurologists. Only a CT scan or MRI can detect the cause
of these disorders and their original condition. In short, common ependymoma symptoms include:
Ependymoma treatment tends to include surgical procedures.
But the operation is in any case extremely difficult and takes several hours. The surgical intervention is
performed to remove the tumor without causing damage to nerve fibers often surround the
tumor. In fact, even the best neurosurgeons often leave a small residual tumor to healthy tissue and thus avoid
maximum postoperative neurological sequelae, pathological condition resulting from disease,
injury, or other trauma such as surgery. Rare are the cases where surgery has helped to remove the entire
tumor. Regardless, rehabilitation is usually necessary.
Additional treatment such as radiotherapy or chemotherapy may be considered. In all cases, an annual MRI is prescribed for life, to
monitor the residual tumor. The headache can last for years, due to postoperative scar or trauma. In the most
severe cases, the patient may need a second operation to establish a ventricular valve
to discharge the pressure of the cerebrospinal fluid into the vena cava.