Primary spinal cord tumors of childhood: Effects of clinical presentation, radiographic features, and pathology on survival

John R. Crawford*, Alejandra Zaninovic, Mariarita Santi, Elisabeth J. Rushing, Cara H. Olsen, Robert F. Keating, Gilbert Vezina, Nadja Kadom, Roger J. Packer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


To determine the relationship between clinical presentation, radiographic features, pathology, and treatment on overall survival of newly diagnosed pediatric primary spinal cord tumors (PSCT). Retrospective analysis of all previously healthy children with newly diagnosed PSCT at a single institution from 1995 to present was performed. Twenty-five pediatric patients (15 boys, average 7.9 years) were diagnosed with PSCT. Presenting symptoms ranged from 0.25 to 60 months (average 7.8 months). Symptom duration was significantly shorter for high grade tumors (average 1.65 months) than low grade tumors (average 11.2 months) (P = 0.05). MRI revealed tumor (8 cervical, 17 thoracic, 7 lumbar, 7 sacral) volumes of 98-94,080 mm3 (average 19,474 mm3). Homogeneous gadolinium enhancement on MRI correlated with lower grade pathology (P = 0.003). There was no correlation between tumor grade and volume (P = 0.63) or edema (P = 0.36) by MRI analysis. Median survival was 53 months and was dependent on tumor grade (P = 0.05) and gross total resection (P = 0.01) but not on gender (P = 0.49), age of presentation (P = 0.82), duration of presenting symptoms (P = 0.33), or adjuvant therapies (P = 0.17). Stratified Kaplan-Meier analysis confirmed the association between degree of resection and survival after controlling for tumor grade (P = 0.01). MRI homogeneous gadolinium enhancement patterns may be helpful in distinguishing low grade from high grade spinal cord malignancies. While tumor grade and gross total resection rather than duration of symptoms correlated with survival in our series, greater than one-third of patients had reported symptoms greater than 6 months duration prior to diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-269
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuro-Oncology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Childhood spinal tumor
  • Intraspinal tumor
  • Pediatric spinal cord tumor


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