Chordoid meningioma

Chordoid meningiomas are uncommon histological variants of meningiomas, and due to their predilection for rapid growth and local recurrence are designated as grade 2 tumours under the current WHO classification of CNS tumours

Chordoid tumours are encountered in a very wide age range (possibly somewhat younger than other meningiomas 3), in a wide range of locations within the intracranial cavity and have clinical presentations indistinguishable from other meningiomas 1,2. These are therefore discussed in the main meningioma article. 

An association with Castleman disease was part of the original description but is only uncommonly encountered 3-5

Chordoid meningiomas have characteristic histological appearances, which contribute to their distinctive diffusion characteristics on imaging (see below). 

The epithelioid tumour cells demonstrate cytoplasmic vacuolization, and are embedded in a mucoid matrix which has abundant hyaluronic acid and chondroitin sulfate 1,2

The mitotic index of these tumours has been variably reported (0.4-11.4%) and it is likely that this is not the underlying cause of higher reported recurrence rate 3

Chordoid tumours are usually vimentin EMA positive, and GFAP negative 5

T1 and T2 signal characteristics are generally similar to other meningiomas, and no morphological features are particularly helpful in distinguishing chordoid meningiomas from other variants 1. Generally they are probably more heterogeneous and perhaps more likely to involve adjacent bone, however limited numbers in reported series make this difficult to assess 1,2

  • T1
    • typically isointense to grey matter (same as typical grade 1 meningiomas)
  • T2 
    • typically mildly hyperintense to grey matter (grade 1 tumours are typically isointense)
    • peritumoral oedema is variable (absent to pronounced)
  • T1 C+
    • most a vividly enhancing
    • occasional areas of non enhancement due to necrosis are identified 1

The most helpful MRI feature in distinguishing a chordoid meningiomas from other histological variants are their diffusion characteristics. They typically have facilitated diffusion with a mean ADC value of 1620 +/- 0.33 x 10-6 mm2/s according to one study 1. In contrast WHO grade 1 meningiomas, non-chordoid grade 2 tumours and grade 3 tumours all have more pronounced diffusion restriction, similar or lower to brain parenchyma (~800 x 10-6 mm2/s). 

Chordoid meningiomas are treated with surgical excision and if complete resection is accomplished then a cure is possible. In subtotal resection (Simpson grade 4) or in cases of recurrence, radiotherapy is also often used 5.

They are, however, considered WHO grade 2 tumours on account of a higher rate of local recurrence (up to 42%) 3

Chordoid meningiomas were first described in 1980 (single case report in a 15-year old) 6 and subsequently named 1988 4

In addition to all other histological variants of meningiomas (especially microcystic subtype), chordoid meningiomas need to be distinguished from other extra-axial tumours with abundant extracellular matrix. Therefore the differential includes:

  • microcystic meningioma
    • typically demonstrate brighter T2 signal
    • less facilitated diffusion 1
  • chordoma
    • typically arising in the midline form the clivus
    • almost invariably associated with bony destruction
  • chondrosarcoma
    • typically arising from the central base of skull, near the petroclival synchondrosis
    • may have chondroid ossification (rings and arcs
  • myxoid soft-tissue tumours
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Article information

rID: 42188
Section: Pathology
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Chordoid meningiomas

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Cases and figures

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    Case 1: haematoxylin and eosin stain
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    Case 1: T2
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    Case 2: T1 C+
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    Case 2: ADC
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    Case 3: T2
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    Case 3: T1 C+
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    Case 4: T1 C+
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    Case 4: ADC
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