ISSN 1470-3947 (print) | ISSN 1479-6848 (online)

Endocrine Abstracts (2006) 12 P17

A case of thoracic cord ependymoma in neurofibromatosis type 1

AS Sharma, ME Emery, KM Metcalfe, HIS Sabin & WMD Drake


St. Bartholomews Hospital, London, United Kingdom.


A 55year old man with neurofibromatosis type 1 and hypertension presented with a 1 month history of recurrent falls. Examination revealed an unsteady gait with poor co-ordination, impaired joint position sense and a positive Romberg’s test, with no other abnormal neurological findings.

An MRI spine revealed an expanding intramedullary lesion T8-L1 with a differential diagnosis of an ependymoma, astrocytoma and intradural extra medullary schwannoma.

Shortly after he developed hypertonia with clonus, symmetrically brisk reflexes a left up-going plantar, lax anal tone and urinary retention, requiring catheterisation.

The finding of 1 out of 4 urine collections showing a high level of noradrenaline (1965 nmol/24 hrs, upper limit normal 560 nmol/24 hrs) lead to detailed adrenal imaging by CT (normal adrenals) and MIBG (equivocal uptake in the left adrenal gland). Adrenal venous sampling was considered but not performed because of a large left renal artery aneurysm. A laminectomy was performed under full alpha blockade with phenoxybenzamine with good clearance of tumour. Histology confirmed a low grade ependymoma.

Post-operatively tone and power returned to normal and urinary incontinence resolved. The patient completed a five week course of radiotherapy and was discharged home with community physiotherapy.

Ependymomas and Neurofibromatosis type 1

Although ependymomas are well recognised in NF 2 there are very few reported cases in NF1. One study of intramedullary spinal cord tumours associated with NF1 found a male predominance, with astrocytoma being the most common histology. A literature search revealed it to be relatively uncommon to develop spinal cord compression at this level, and the only scattered cases reported show a tendency towards cervical cord compression. In conclusion this is an unusual feature of a rare disease and highlights the importance of a multi-disciplinary approach to the management of such patients.

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