A Patients' Guide to Spinal Tumors

Surgical treatment of spinal tumors

Indications for surgical treatment of a spinal tumor include uncontrollable pain, spinal cord compression, and spinal instability. Similar to other treatments, your doctor will recommend a treatment plan that considers your tumor type, health status, and age. The benefits, risks and complications, as well as projected outcome (prognosis) are weighed as art of the decision process shared by you and your doctor.

Embolization is an invasive technique suitable to treat different types of spine tumors. It works by obstructing the tumor's blood supply. The procedure is performed using x-ray or CT guidance and may employ the use of different materials to block vessels that feed the tumor. Types of materials include coils, foam, dissolving sponge, and medical liquid glue. A catheter (hollow tube) delivers the materials used to embolize a blood vessel.
Doctor holding a tablet with a modern operating room in the backgroundSurgical Removal
The goals of spine tumor surgery include restoring spinal stability, function, decompression of neural elements (eg, spinal cord), pain reduction, and preventing tumor recurrence or spread. Part or the entire spinal tumor is removed (terms include debulking, excision or resection).

The type of surgical procedure considered appropriate depends on several factors such as the tumor's location, type, and size; patient's general health; and, need for spinal stabilization. Spinal stabilization means using instrumentation (eg, interbody devices, screws) and fusion (eg, bone graft) to secure the spine in position—also called fixation.

Spinal Fracture Treatment
There are different minimally invasive spine surgical techniques that may be considered for the treatment of a spinal fracture. Of course, there are different types of spinal fractures, such as a vertebral compression fracture and a burst fracture. Your spine surgeon may base his/her surgical decision on the type of fracture, what cause the fracture, its location within the spine, your bone quality (eg, osteopenia or osteoporosis), the goals of surgery, and the most technique and technology to provide the best outcome.

Your doctor will outline specific guidelines to help you to obtain the best treatment whether nonsurgical and/or surgical. Short- and long-term recovery depends much on the tumor type (eg, benign, malignant), treatment, your overall health, and age.

A period of hospitalization after surgery is to be expected. Thereafter, some patients are discharged home or may spend time at a physical rehabilitation facility prior to going home. These decisions are in part based on the patient's ability to care for her/himself and/or spouse/partner, family, friend, or caregiver involvement.


Updated on: 07/26/16
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Patient Guide to Spinal Tumors: Purpose and Introduction
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Patient Guide to Spinal Tumors: Purpose and Introduction

Here you will learn about spinal tumors, how and where they develop, the diagnostic process, and treatment.
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