, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 103-110
Date: 21 May 2010

Management of subependymal giant cell tumors in tuberous sclerosis complex: the neurosurgeon’s perspective

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Abstract

Background

Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC), an autosomal dominant genetic disorder, can lead to the development of hamartomas in various organs, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, skin and brain. The management of subependymal giant cell tumors (SGCTs) is still controversial, and peri- and/or intraventricular neoplasms may lead to life-threatening hydrocephalus. In the last years, many progresses have been made in research into the tumorigenesis and behaviors of SGCTs. This review aims to clarify the specific role of neurosurgeons in the multidisciplinary management of SGCTs in children with TSC.

Data sources

Based on the recent scientific literature and personal experience, we reviewed the up-to-date data and discussed the trends in the management of SGCTs in children with TSC. The data were collected after a bibliography made using PubMed/Medline with these terms: subependymal, subependymal giant cell astrocytoma, subependymal giant cell tumor, and tuberous sclerosis complex.

Results

SGCTs are shown to be generated from a glioneuronal lineage, but their filiation with subependymal nodules (SENs) is still under debate. While SENs may develop anywhere in the ventricular walls, SGCTs arise almost exclusively around the Monro foramina. In children with TSC, precise clinical and/or imaging criteria are mandatory to differentiate SENs that are always asymptomatic and riskless from SGCTs that have the potential to grow and therefore to obstruct cerebrospinal fluid pathways leading to hydrocephalus.

Conclusions

An earlier diagnosis of SGCT in neurologically asymptomatic children with TSC may allow a precocious surgical removal of the tumor before the installation of increased intracranial pressure signs, an attitude that is being progressively adopted to lessen the morbimortality rate.