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CASE REPORT
Year : 2006  |  Volume : 54  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 428-430

Cases of glioblastoma multiforme metastasizing to spinal cord


Department of Radiation Oncology, Ankara University Faculty of Medicine, Cebeci Hospital, Dikimevi Ankara, Turkey

Correspondence Address:
Yildiz Guney
Department of Radiation Oncology, Cebeci Hospital, Dikimevi Ankara
Turkey
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0028-3886.28122

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 » Abstract 

Cases of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) metastasizing to the leptomeninx or the intramedullary spine are quite rare and prognoses are relatively poor. We present three cases of GBM with spinal metastasis, one of which also had leptomeningeal dissemination. Three patients with GBM were admitted to our clinic for postoperative radiotherapy after surgery. Leptomeningeal metastasis and dissemination were diagnosed with magnetic resonance imaging. Radiotherapy provided only temporary relief from pain with small improvement in neurological deficit but no survival advantage.


Keywords: Glioblastoma multiforme, intramedullary metastasis, leptomeningeal dissemination, radiotherapy


How to cite this article:
Karaca M, Andrieu MN, Hicsonmez A, Guney Y, Kurtman C. Cases of glioblastoma multiforme metastasizing to spinal cord. Neurol India 2006;54:428-30

How to cite this URL:
Karaca M, Andrieu MN, Hicsonmez A, Guney Y, Kurtman C. Cases of glioblastoma multiforme metastasizing to spinal cord. Neurol India [serial online] 2006 [cited 2019 Jul 23];54:428-30. Available from: http://www.neurologyindia.com/text.asp?2006/54/4/428/28122



 » Introduction Top


Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common primary malignancy of the central nervous system (CNS). Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) seeding is observed in approximately 15-25% of cases of supratentorial GBM,[1],[2],[3] while a higher incidence is seen in patients with infratentorial GBM.[3] However, the exact incidence of CSF seeding is still uncertain because autopsy is not performed routinely. In addition, CSF cytology is not useful due to the high number of false negative results.[4]


 » Case Reports Top


Case 1

In February 2004, a 67-year-old man presented with a history of headache and disarthria of two months duration. Brain MRI demonstrated a contrast-enhancing lesion with edema measuring 7.5 x 5.5 x 5 cm in the left temporal lobe. Gross total resection was performed. Histopathological findings showed GBM (WHO Grade 4). After surgery, cranial radiotherapy (RT) was delivered with a total dose of 60Gy in 2-Gy fractions. The patient complained of left leg weakness and back pain in the second week of RT. After a complete neurological examination and radiological evaluation, tumor recurrence in the operation field and a new lesion in the prepontine interpedincular system were found [Figure - 1]. Also, thoraco-lumbar spinal MRI revealed an expansive intramedullar lesion at the T11-L1 junction measuring 3.5 x 2 x 1 cm in diameter [Figure - 2]. After palliative external radiotherapy to T10-L2 with a total dose of 21 Gy in 3-Gy fractions, neurological findings were diminished. Additionally, two cycles of CCNU adjuvant chemotherapy were given. One month after the end of RT, control MRI demonstrated no progression of the lesion.

Although good local control and palliation of symptoms were achieved with RT, the patient survived only about four months after diagnosis of metastases.

Case 2

In November 2003, a 20-year-old woman was admitted to the emergency unit with a history of headache and diplopia. After radiological evaluation, a lesion measuring 3.5 x 3.5 x 2.2 cm from the left lateral ventricule to the frontal lobe was found. Gross total resection was performed. Histopathological findings showed GBM. Postoperative cranial RT was delivered with a total dose of 60Gy in 2-Gy fractions. There was no complain for one year after RT. However, at the last visit, the patient complained of left foot pain. After a through neurological examination and radiological evaluation, tumor recurrence in the operation field was found in December 2004. Also, lumbar MRI showed multiple lesions at the lowest thoracic and upper lumbar vertebral region and between fibers of cauda equinea, but concurrent CSF study was negative [Figure - 3]. Palliative RT to T12-L2 with a total dose of 39Gy in 3-Gy fractions was delivered in January 2005. Good palliation was achieved with RT, but the patient died in June 2005.

Case 3

In January 2003, a 28-year-old woman was admitted to the emergency unit with a history of headache and sudden weakness of the right side. After radiological evaluation, brain MRI demonstrated a contrast-enhancing lesion measuring 7 x 3.5 x 4.5 cm in the left frontal and parietal lobe. Gross total resection was performed. Histopathological studies showed GBM (WHO Grade 4). Postoperative cranial RT was delivered with a total dose of 60Gy in 2-Gy fractions. She received temazolamid as concurrent chemotherapy. After surgery and RT, there was no symptom or complain for 17 months. Although a small residual lesion was found in all control MRIs, it was stable. At the last control in June 2005, the patient complained of lower limb weakness and intradural-extramedullar lesions at T6 (5-6 mm), T8 (10-12 mm), T9 (7 mm) and T12-L1 (3 x 1.5 x 1 cm) were found by MRI. In consideration of the high performance status of the patient and no change in the diameter of the primary lesion during the 17-months period of postoperative cranial RT, spinal RT was to be delivered to the limit dose of the cord. Palliation of symptoms was achieved with RT, but the patient died in September 2005.


 » Discussion Top


The most common clinical features of leptomeningeal metastases are radicular pain in the upper and lower limbs, lower back, interscapular area and neck. This is frequently followed by paraparesis or, infrequently, quadraparesis.[5] Accordingly, our patients presented with pain during leptomeningeal dissemination.

The most common sites for spinal GBM metastases are the lower thoracic, upper lumbar and lumbosacral regions.[6] Reports of intramedullary metastases are quite rare in the literature.[5] Since patients with GBM usually do not live long enough for small tumor implants to grow to the symptomatic size, it is difficult to clinically evaluate symptomatic metastasis. The rate of spinal leptomeningeal seeding after diagnosis of GBM has been variably reported. A review of the literature by Erlich and Davis in 1978 revealed only 14 well-documented cases of spinal subarachnoid seeding from primary intracranial GBM since 1931.[7] In a study of 600 patients with GBM, only 2% had symptomatic CSF seeding.[5] This result suggests that the symptomatic involvement occurs relatively late in the course of GBM. In our cases, metastases were diagnosed in the 2nd, 12th and 17th months after RT, respectively. Stark et al[8] reported three patients (1.1%) of 267 adult cases of GBM who developed spinal drop metastases 5, 8 or 11 months after craniotomy. The incidence of symptomatic metastasis is certainly lower than the incidence observed postmortem. Most of the large series describe patients with meningeal and spinal spread discovered at autopsy. Metastases, which were associated with pain and/or neurological deficit, were usually verified by radiological studies. We suspected CSF spreading because of back pain and neurological deficit during RT. Magnetic resonance imaging findings demonstrated the dissemination of disease in Case 1.

Until recently, myelography with CT follow-up was the most accurate diagnostic test for leptomeningeal metastasis,[6] but CT myelography has now been replaced with MRI. Spinal MRI with gadolinium enhancement is the current investigation of choice for leptomeningeal metastasis.

Although there is still no satisfactory treatment for leptomeningeal metastasis, RT is the most commonly used treatment modality, with a total dose of 25 to 40Gy. Because of the diffuse nature of the disease, leptomeningeal metastasis is often unsuitable for surgical decompression. The advantage of intravenous or intrathecal chemotherapy has not been proven for intramedullary metastasis. Because curative treatment is not applicable, the treatment modality for these patients is solely palliative. Our patients were treated with a total dose of 21Gy, 39Gy or 46Gy and good palliation of symptoms was achieved.

Leptomeningeal metastasis with CSF tumor dissemination almost always results in a fatal outcome. The median time from diagnosis of the primary intracranial GBM to diagnosis of CSF tumor dissemination ranges from 8 to 14 months, median survival ranges from 11 to 17 months and the average time interval between diagnosis of leptomeningeal metastasis and death is two to three months.[9] As mentioned by Fakhrai et al ,[10] survival periods are shorter in patients who have GBM with spinal seeding and these patients should be given adequate palliative care. One of our patients survived about four months after the diagnosis of metastasis, but the time between the initial diagnosis of GBM and leptomeningeal dissemination was only about two months. To our knowledge, Case 1 is only the second case reported in the literature with simultaneous leptomeningeal and intramedullary metastases.

In conclusion, cases of GBM with recent extremity and back pain and/or associated spinal root nerve signs should cause clinicians to consider leptomeningeal and/or spinal dissemination of GBM.

 
 » References Top

1.Cairns H, Russell DS. Intracranial and spinal metastases in gliomas of the brain. Brain 1931;54:377-420.   Back to cited text no. 1    
2.Arita N, Taneda M, Hayakawa T. Leptomeningeal dissemination of malignant gliomas: Incidence, diagnosis and outcome. Acta Neurochir [Wien] 1994;126:84-92.   Back to cited text no. 2  [PUBMED]  
3.Salazar OM, Rubin P. The spread of glioblastoma multiforme as a determining factor in the radiation treadted volume. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 1976;1:627-37.  Back to cited text no. 3  [PUBMED]  
4.Balhuizen JC, Bots GT, Schaberg A, Bosman FT. Value of cerebrospinal fluid cytology for the diagnosis of malingnancies in the central nervous system. J Neurosurg 1978;48:747-53.   Back to cited text no. 4  [PUBMED]  
5.Stanley P, Senac MO Jr, Segall HD. Intraspinal seeding from intracranial tumors in children. Am J Roentgenol 1985;144:157-61.  Back to cited text no. 5  [PUBMED]  
6.Lam CH, Cosgrove GR, Drislane FW, Sortel A. Spinal leptomeningeal metastasis from cerebral glioblastoma. Apperance on Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Surg Neurol 1991;35:377-80.  Back to cited text no. 6    
7.Erlich SS, Davis RL. Spinal subaracnoid metastasis from primary intracranial glioblastome multiforme. Cancer 1978;42:2854-64.  Back to cited text no. 7  [PUBMED]  
8.Stark AM, Nabavi A, Mehdorn HM, Bl φmer U. Glioblastoma multiforme - Report of 267 cases treated at a single institution. Surgical Neurology 2005;63:162-9.  Back to cited text no. 8    
9.Grabb PA, Albright AL, Pang D. Dissemination of supratentorial malignant gliomas via the cerebrospinal fluid in children. Neurosurgery 1992;30:64-71.  Back to cited text no. 9  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]
10.Fakhrai N, Czech T, Diekmann K, Fazeny-Dorner B , Birner P , Hainfellner JA , et al . Glioblastoma with spinal seeding. Strahlenther Onkol 2004;180:455-7.  Back to cited text no. 10    


    Figures

[Figure - 1], [Figure - 2], [Figure - 3]

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