Optimal histologic criteria for the classification of and grading of ependymomas, including their anaplastic forms, remain elusive. This is especially true because of the poor correlation of these criteria with clinical outcome. The aim of this study was to identify the histopathologic parameters that could distinguish different prognostic groups of patients with ependymomas. Eighty-one patients with ependymal tumors, including those originally diagnosed ependymomas, anaplastic ependymomas and myxopapillary ependymomas, were enrolled in this study. Thirteen histologic parameters, including hypercellularity, nuclear pleomorphism, mitoses, endothelial proliferation, necrosis, clear cell, thrombi, dystrophic calcification, psammoma bodies, bone, cartilage, Rosenthal fibers and MIB-1 labeling index (LI), were evaluated in each patient and correlated with clinical outcome. We assigned one score for each histopathologic parameter evaluated and used a stepwise selection method with entry model based on the significance of the log-rank statistic to formulate a scoring model. Four parameters were chosen in this process, including mitoses ≥ 4/10 hpf (1.7/mm2), hypercellularity, endothelial proliferation and necrosis. The sum of these four parameters (scores) was the histopathologic score of the tumor. The progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) of patients with histopathologic scores 0 and 1 were significantly better than those with histopathologic scores 2, 3 and 4 (p < 0.001 and p = 0.005, respectively). Because of the latter finding, we proposed that anaplastic ependymoma could be diagnosed by the presence of any two of the aforementioned four parameters. Multivariate analyses including clinical and histopathologic variables showed that histopathologic score ≥ 2 and subtotal resection were the factors related to increased risk of recurrence, while histopathologic score ≥ 2 was the only factor related to overall survival. Based on the above findings, we concluded that histopathology is an important prognostic indicator for patients with ependymomas.
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