Enlargement of the ependymal cells that line the ventricular system of the brain. The lumen surface shows cilia and basal bodies. (Source: Shutterstock)
Ependymomas are usually slow-growing tumours of the central nervous system. The cells of these brain tumours have similar tissue characteristics as the ependymal cells which line the hollow cavities of the brain and the spinal canal. Although they tend to affect children and adolescents, ependymoma can occur at any age. About 30 to 40 children per 100,000 under 15 years are affected.
Because they are located close to the ventricle, the ependymoma is often obstructing the flow of cerebrospinal fluid which can lead to an increase of pressure in the brain. This can result in persistent headaches, nausea and vomiting, as well as a hydrocephalus.
There are statistically more benign ependymomas than malicious ones. The anaplastic ependymoma is the malignant form of this tumour. Anaplastisch means that higher differentiated cells (so normal, healthy cells) become less differentiated (they become malignant).
For the diagnostic, especially because of the many differential diagnoses, apart from the neurological examinations, special imaging techniques are used: electroencephalogram (EEG), computer tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), angiography, evoked potential, auditory evoked potential AEP, visual evoked potential VEP, sensory evoked potentials (SEP) positron emission tomography (PET) and blood tests (eg tumor markers) and biopsies.
With an examination of tissue, the main criteria are the so-called pseudorosettes to the blood vessels, in which tumour cells are arranged around vessels.