The optimal treatment for intramedullary spinal tumors is controversial, because both resection and conventional radiation therapy are associated with potential morbidity. Stereotactic radiosurgery can theoretically deliver highly conformal, high-dose radiation to surgically untreatable lesions while simultaneously mitigating radiation exposure to large portions of the spinal cord. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the authors' initial experience with frameless stereotactic radiosurgery for intramedullary spinal tumors.Between 1998 and 2003, 10 intramedullary spinal tumors were treated with stereotactic radiosurgery at the authors' institution. Seven hemangioblastomas and three ependymomas were treated in four men and three women. These patients either had recurrent tumors, had undergone several previous surgeries, had medical contraindications to surgery, or had declined open resection. Conformal treatment planning delivered a prescribed dose of 1800 to 2500 cGy (mean 2100 cGy) to the lesions in one to three stages. No significant treatment-related complications have been recorded. The mean radiographic and clinical follow-up duration was 12 months (range 1-24 months). One ependymoma and two hemangioblastomas were smaller on follow-up neuroimaging. The remaining tumors were stable at the time of follow-up imaging.Stereotactic radiosurgery for intramedullary spinal tumors is feasible and safe in selected cases and may prove to be another therapeutic option for these challenging lesions.
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