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An elderly patient presenting with a primary spinal multifocal intradural extramedullary pilocytic astrocytoma: a case report and review of the literature.

BMC Cancer 2018 August 10
BACKGROUND: Pilocytic astrocytoma is a low-grade central nervous system tumor most commonly seen in children. Dissemination from a primary intracranial tumor along the neuroaxis has been described at both presentation and disease progression. However, the development of an intradural extramedullary pilocytic astrocytoma independent of a primary intraparenchymal tumor in an adult patient with no history of pilocytic astrocytoma has rarely been reported.

CASE PRESENTATION: A 69-year-old woman presented with progressive myelopathic symptoms and thoracic radicular pain. MRI imaging of the whole spine showed an enhancing intradural extramedullary lesion extending from the cervical cord to T11 causing cord compression. Laminectomies were performed for surgical decompression and histopathology was consistent with pilocytic astrocytoma. Complete staging was done that included imaging of the brain and cerebrospinal fluid cytology. No other tumor was found by these methods. Postoperatively the patient was treated with large field spinal radiation and concurrent chemotherapy followed by adjuvant chemotherapy. She has thus far been clinically and radiographically stable.

CONCLUSION: This is a rare case of an adult with multiple spinal pilocytic astrocytomas in an intradural extramedullary location, typically the result of cerebrospinal fluid dissemination of neoplastic cells from a primary intracranial tumor site (i.e. drop metastasis). No conventional primary tumor was identified in this patient, suggesting these tumors may arise from heterotopic gliomas.

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