Intramedullary Spinal Cord Tumors in Children Homepage

Title Page Image Intramedullary Spinal Cord Tumors in Children



Rick Abbott, M.D.

Section Editors

Paul Steinbok, M.D.

David Sandberg, M.D.

Editor in Chief

Rick Abbott, M.D.


IMSCTs are rare tumors in children. They typically are benign and produce an extremely slow, insidious evolution of symptoms that depend on the location of the tumor. It is not uncommon for families to recognize the duration of symptoms only after the tumor has been discovered and they are asked to reflect upon aspects of their child’s motor development.

The time span of this evolution is months to years. Untreated, IMSCTs will cause a steady but slow loss in motor function below the level of the tumor, and pain will become an important feature. Loss of sensation only develops late, and deterioration in bowel and bladder function is rare unless the tumor is in the conus of the spinal cord.

Key Points

  • Timing of surgery: Treatment is better tolerated when a patient is minimally affected functionally. 
  • Amount of resection: Radical resection is better tolerated than a biopsy.
  • Management of recurrence: The risks of reoperation for tumor recurrence or progression are the same as those of a first time operation and occur with a similar frequency.