Journal of Neuro-Oncology

, Volume 110, Issue 2, pp 221–226 | Cite as

Malignant spinal cord compression in cerebral glioblastoma multiforme: a multicenter case series and review of the literature

  • Alexander TinchonEmail author
  • Stefan Oberndorfer
  • Christine Marosi
  • Roberta Rudà
  • Cornelia Sax
  • Bernadette Calabek
  • Wolfgang Grisold
Clinical Study


Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common malignant primary brain tumor in adults. Compared with other malignancies, remote metastases in GBM are rare. However, multicentric spreading within the central nervous system is common and also metastases to the spinal cord have been reported. Some of these drop metastases may also lead to malignant spinal cord compression (MSCC). We retrospectively identified nine patients from 2001 to 2010 and performed data analysis according to a standardized clinical protocol. We also provide a review of the literature on this rare condition. MSCC from cerebral GBM is rare and is found in approximately 1 % of GBM patients. Median age of 54 years in this case series is comparable with that of GBM patients without MSCC. Treatment regimens for cerebral GBM and overall survival was similar to those for patients without MSCC. Spinal metastasis seems to occur in the advanced state of the disease, and the outcome subsequently is extremely poor. All patients presented with multicentric radiological features of GBM on cerebral MRI when MSCC was diagnosed. Subependymal enhancement is another common radiological finding in GBM patients with spinal drop metastases. Steroids and focal radiotherapy were used to treat all patients, with little clinical benefit. This study is the largest case series of MSCC from cerebral GBM. Multicentric cerebral distribution and subependymal enhancement of GBM are observed on cerebral MRI at the time of MSCC. On the basis of our results, no specific treatment recommendations for MSCC in GBM patients can be given. However, accurate diagnosis of MSCC in GBM patients with spinal signs and symptoms can lead to adequate management of symptoms and improvement of quality of life in terms of best palliative care.


Spinal metastases Glioblastoma multiforme Multicentric Spinal cord compression 



The authors are grateful for the support of the radiological department of the University Hospital of Vienna.

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare they have no conflicts of interest


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexander Tinchon
    • 1
    Email author
  • Stefan Oberndorfer
    • 2
  • Christine Marosi
    • 3
  • Roberta Rudà
    • 4
  • Cornelia Sax
    • 3
  • Bernadette Calabek
    • 1
  • Wolfgang Grisold
    • 1
  1. 1.Neurological DepartmentKaiser-Franz-Joseph-HospitalViennaAustria
  2. 2.Neurological DepartmentState Hospital of St. PöltenSt. PoltenAustria
  3. 3.Oncological DepartmentUniversity Hospital of ViennaViennaAustria
  4. 4.Neuro-Scientific DepartmentUniversity and San Giovanni Battista HospitalTurinItaly

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