Spinal Tumors

Find Effective Treatment for Spinal Tumors at Raleigh Neurosurgical Clinic

What Is a Spinal Tumor?

A spinal tumor is a growth of cells (mass) that develops either within the spinal cord itself or in the area surrounding the spinal cord. These tumors can be cancerous (malignant) or non-cancerous (benign), and can originate in the spinal tissue (primary) or spread into the spine from other areas of the body (secondary, or metastatic).

What Are the Types of Spinal Tumors?

Spinal tumors are typically classified based on their location in the spine:

Extradural: These tumors are located between the dura mater (a thick membrane that surrounds the spinal cord) and the bones of the spine.

  • This is the most common type, accounting for about 60 percent of all spinal tumors.
  • The majority are metastatic, spreading from other primary tumor sites (e.g. lungs, breast, prostate) through the bloodstream to the bones of the spinal cord.
  • They usually invade and destroy bone before compressing the spinal cord.

Intradural-extramedullary: These tumors are located outside of the actual spinal cord but within the dura mater.

  • They account for about 30 percent of all spinal tumors.
  • The most common types are meningiomas and nerve sheath tumors.
  • They are usually benign and slow growing.
  • Although they don’t begin in spinal cord, they may eventually lead to compression and cause pain and weakness to it.

Intramedullary: These tumors arise from supporting cells (glia) within the substance of the spinal cord.

  • They account for about 10 percent of all spinal tumors.
  • Astrocytomas and ependymomas are the most common, and occur at about equal frequency.
  • Hemangioblastomas are less common and sometimes occur with Von Hippel-Lindau disease (a condition in which patients are prone to developing cysts in kidneys and other organs).
  • They typically occur in the cervical (upper) spine and are usually benign.

What Are the Symptoms of a Spinal Tumor?

The symptoms of a spinal tumor depend on the location, type, and size of the tumor, as well as the general health of the patient. Metastatic tumors generally progress more quickly, while primary tumors tend to grow slowly, over weeks or even years.

Tumors in the spinal cord itself often cause noticeable symptoms, which can extend out to other parts of the body, while those outside of the spinal cord can grow for a long time before causing any detectable nerve damage.

Symptoms of spinal tumors can include:

  • Pain, which can spread (radiate) to other areas of the body (especially in extradural tumors)
  • Weakness or numbness in the arms or legs
  • Changes in bowel or bladder habits
  • Muscle weakness or loss of function
  • Muscle contractions
  • Abnormal sensations (or loss of sensation), especially in the legs
  • Paralysis

How Is a Spinal Tumor Diagnosed?

If you’ve regularly been experiencing any of the above symptoms and are concerned that a spinal tumor could be a possibility, visit us at Raleigh Neurosurgical Clinic for a thorough evaluation.

We’ll begin the evaluation with a full medical history, a physical and neurological exam, and some type of radiographic study of the spine. Depending on the symptoms, we may use a  a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CAT), scan.

How Is a Spinal Tumor Treated?

Once a spinal tumor is confirmed, treatment should be provided quickly to increase the chances of success.  The overall goal of any treatment for spinal tumors is to reduce and prevent nerve damage from pressure on the spinal cord.

Surgery can be used to treat many types of spinal tumors and is useful for obtaining tissue for diagnosis, as well as to relieve pressure of the spinal cord and stabilize the spine.

At Raleigh Neurosurgical Clinic, we provide these surgical procedures for spinal tumors:

  • Preoperative embolization
  • Posterior resection of tumor
  • Anterior resection of tumor

Make an Appointment

Our neurosurgeons at Raleigh Neurosurgical Clinic are skilled and experienced at treating spinal tumors. To meet with one of our spinal tumor specialists, make an appointment today.

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