JOURNAL ARTICLE
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High-grade intramedullary astrocytomas: 30 years' experience at the Neurosurgery Department of the University of Rome "Sapienza".

OBJECT: The goal in this study was to review a series of patients who underwent surgical removal of intramedullary high-grade gliomas, focusing on the functional outcome, recurrence rates, and technical problems continually debated in neurosurgical practice.

METHODS: Between December 1976 and December 2006, 22 patients underwent removal of intramedullary high-grade gliomas. Lesions were located in the cervical spinal cord in 12 patients, and in the thoracic cord in 10.

RESULTS: Histological examinations showed 10 Grade III astrocytomas and 12 glioblastomas. Only 2 of the 22 high-grade astrocytomas could be completely removed. The clinical postoperative status worsened in 14 patients (63.6%), was unchanged in 7 patients (31.8%), and there was 1 case of intraoperative death (4.5%). None of the 22 patients showed improvement in their neurological status postoperatively. In this series, excluding the 1 intraoperative death, all patients died of progression of the malignancy.

CONCLUSIONS: Surgical treatment did not ameliorate the postoperative neurological status; instead, in the majority of cases, it prompted a worsening of the deficit. Radiotherapy and chemotherapy have a little influence on the length of survival. In this series, multimodality treatment of intramedullary high-grade astrocytomas has been shown to increase length of survival without improving the neurological status.

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