Ependymoma is a type of glioma, which is a brain tumor that arises from the brain tissue. Ependymomas are thought to arise from the ependyma, which is the surface lining the ventricles (inner fluid chambers) of the brain as well as the central canal of the spinal cord. Ependymomas are generally resistant to chemotherapy, so surgical removal is a mainstay of therapy. Like other gliomas, ependymomas have varying degrees of aggressiveness.
When possible, the preferred surgical treatment at UPMC for ependymomas is Neuroendoport® Surgery, which provides access to the tumor through a dime-size channel. This minimally invasive approach offers the benefits of minimal scarring, fewer side effects and complications, and faster recovery times. Open approaches are often indicated as well, especially in the posterior fossa (the lower back part of the head.)
Ependymomas can be identified by imaging studies such as MRI or CT scans.
Your physician will also ask you about your symptoms. These may include:
- nausea or vomiting
- weakness or loss of sensation in the arms and/or legs
- speech, vision, or memory problems
- personality changes
Whenever possible, ependymomas are removed surgically.
Neuroendoport® Surgery offers a minimally invasive option for deep-seated tumors within the substance of the brain or within the ventricles (fluid spaces). A narrow tube or port allows doctors to access tumors through a tiny incision in the scalp, in contrast to traditional brain surgery.
At UPMC, we take a 360° Approach to treatment when evaluating each patient—looking at their conditions from every direction—to find the path that is least disruptive to the patient's brain, critical nerves, and ability to return to normal functioning. Our neurosurgical team may recommend a combination of surgical and non-surgical approaches to maximize the benefits of surgery while minimizing risks.
Radiation is commonly used to treat brain tumors, since surgery isn't always an option. Radiation therapy may be delivered externally by directing radiation at the tumor from an outside source, internally by placing radioactive material directly in the body near the cancer, or using stereotactic radiosurgery to deliver a concentrated dose of radiation directly to the brain tumor.