3T MRI of Intramedullary Spinal Cord Tumours

Study Purpose

Intramedullary spinal cord tumours (IMSCTs) are a type of tumour that arises from cells within the spinal cord. They are rare, accounting for around 4-10% of central nervous system tumours. They commonly present as back/neck pain and have poor outcomes if not treated. IMSCTs fall into various subtypes. Around 90% are either ependymomas or astrocytomas. Ependymomas are usually quite distinct from the surrounding tissue and therefore can often be treated successfully with surgery. In contrast, astrocytomas tend to invade the surrounding tissue and, as a result, generally cannot be entirely surgically removed. Radiotherapy is recommended instead of surgery for tumours that cannot be operated. Unfortunately, ependymomas and astrocytomas can appear very similar on diagnostic scans and are therefore difficult to tell apart before surgery. Biopsy therefore remains the current gold standard for tumour subtype differentiation. Any spinal cord surgery, whether it be biopsy or resection, poses major challenges due to the small size of the spinal cord. A small corridor via the back of the spinal cord, known as the posterior midline, usually offers the safest approach to a tumour. However, finding this access corridor can be very difficult because tumours tend to deform the anatomy of the spinal cord, leading to a high risk of injury to the normal spinal cord tissue or nerves. The primary objective of this pilot study is to test if cutting-edge spinal cord magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques could help to better differentiate between tumour subtypes. The investigators will do this by comparing various imaging metrics between the tumour subtypes, confirmed by biopsy. The investigators' second objective is to see if these MRI techniques could help to identify, pre-surgery, the location of the posterior midline of the spinal cord. The investigators will do this by comparing the prediction of the midline location from imaging with blinded observations by the surgeon during planned surgery. Additionally, the investigators want to investigate the relationship between imaging metrics and patient pain and sensorimotor symptoms, to explore if imaging offers insight into the variety of clinical symptoms associated with these tumours. The investigators' hope is that the results of this study could inform a future larger trial that would be designed to fully assess the utility of cutting-edge MRI techniques for reducing both the need for spinal cord surgery and the risks associated with surgery in IMSCT patients.

Recruitment Criteria

Accepts Healthy Volunteers

Healthy volunteers are participants who do not have a disease or condition, or related conditions or symptoms

Study Type

An interventional clinical study is where participants are assigned to receive one or more interventions (or no intervention) so that researchers can evaluate the effects of the interventions on biomedical or health-related outcomes.

An observational clinical study is where participants identified as belonging to study groups are assessed for biomedical or health outcomes.

Searching Both is inclusive of interventional and observational studies.

Eligible Ages 18 Years and Over
Gender All
More Inclusion & Exclusion Criteria

Inclusion Criteria:

  • - Participant is willing and able to give informed consent for participation in the study.
  • - Male or Female, aged 18 years or above.
  • - Radiological diagnosis of IMSCT in the cervical spinal cord.
  • - Planned to undergo a biopsy or has already undergone a biopsy to determine tumour subtype.
  • - Sufficient remnant tumour as decided by the study team by review of patients clinical radiological scans.

Exclusion Criteria:

  • - Contraindication to MRI, including certain metal implants.
  • - Subjects who are pregnant or planning pregnancy.
- Any previous therapy that could in the opinion of the CI confound the research MRI characteristics

Trial Details

Trial ID:

This trial id was obtained from ClinicalTrials.gov, a service of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, providing information on publicly and privately supported clinical studies of human participants with locations in all 50 States and in 196 countries.


Phase 1: Studies that emphasize safety and how the drug is metabolized and excreted in humans.

Phase 2: Studies that gather preliminary data on effectiveness (whether the drug works in people who have a certain disease or condition) and additional safety data.

Phase 3: Studies that gather more information about safety and effectiveness by studying different populations and different dosages and by using the drug in combination with other drugs.

Phase 4: Studies occurring after FDA has approved a drug for marketing, efficacy, or optimal use.

Lead Sponsor

The sponsor is the organization or person who oversees the clinical study and is responsible for analyzing the study data.

University of Oxford
Principal Investigator

The person who is responsible for the scientific and technical direction of the entire clinical study.

Principal Investigator Affiliation N/A
Agency Class

Category of organization(s) involved as sponsor (and collaborator) supporting the trial.

Overall Status Recruiting
Countries United Kingdom

The disease, disorder, syndrome, illness, or injury that is being studied.

Spinal Cord Tumor of Cervical Spine

Contact a Trial Team

If you are interested in learning more about this trial, find the trial site nearest to your location and contact the site coordinator via email or phone. We also strongly recommend that you consult with your healthcare provider about the trials that may interest you and refer to our terms of service below.

International Sites

John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom




John Radcliffe Hospital

Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX3 9DU

Site Contact

Jessica Walsh, PhD


01865 611450

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