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MR imaging features of spinal pilocytic astrocytoma

De-Jun She, Yi-Ping Lu, Ji Xiong, Dao-Ying Geng, Bo Yin
BMC Medical Imaging 2019 January 14, 19 (1): 5

BACKGROUND: The purpose of this retrospective review is to determine the MR imaging features of pilocytic astrocytoma (PA) in the spinal cord to help neuroradiologists preoperatively differentiate PA from other intramedullary tumors.

METHODS: Neuro-oncology database review revealed 13 consecutive patients with a pathological spinal PA diagnosis and availability of preoperative MR imaging. Three patients had preoperative diffusion-weighted MR imaging. Demographics and conventional and diffusion MR imaging records were retrospectively evaluated.

RESULTS: Among 13 cases of spinal PA, six PAs were located in the cervical region, 4 in the cervical-thoracic region, and 3 in the thoracic region. The average length of vertebral segments involved for the tumors were 4.7 ± 4.6 segments. Six tumors had associated syringomyelia. Eight PAs were located eccentrically in the spinal cord, and eleven had well-defined margins. Eight tumors (61.5%) were intermixed cystic and solid. All were contrast-enhanced, and 53.8% of all PAs showed focal nodule enhancement of the solid components. Two PAs showed intratumoral hemorrhages, and only one demonstrated cap sign. The ADC values (n = 3) of the tumors were 1.40 ± 0.28 × 10- 3  mm2 /s (min-max: 1.17-1.71 × 10- 3  mm2 /s).

CONCLUSIONS: PA should be considered in the differential diagnosis of intramedullary tumors that occur in the cervical and thoracic regions. Eccentric growth pattern, well-defined margin, intermixed cystic and solid appearance, focal nodular enhancement of solid components and syringomyelia are relatively frequent features. Relatively high ADC values compared with normal-appearing spinal cord parenchyma are common in spinal PA.

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