There are many causes for spinal tumor resection. Spinal tumors are similar to any other type of tumor. Their cause is unknown but they can occur as a primary tumor or as a result of the spread of cancer from another area. Tumors are masses of damaged cells that have multiplied and grown out of control. They may destroy nearby healthy cells or cause them to malfunction. A tumor that forms in the area of the spinal cord can upset the connection between the brain and the nerves or inhibit the cord’s blood supply. Spinal tumors can cause symptoms on one or both sides of the body at once.
Spinal tumors can cause pain, loss of sensation, muscle weakness and spasms. Pain is common at the site of the tumor and the neurological symptoms typically occur at or below the level of the tumor. Extradural tumors are found between the inner portion of the spinal canal and the dura mater. Tumors within the dura may be found outside or inside the spinal cord, or may arise from the spinal nerves.
The most common tumors that develop within the spinal cord are astrocytomas or ependymomas. These tumors almost invariably will require treatment, not only to treat the symptoms of the tumor but to also allow a pathological diagnosis to be obtained in order to determine if additional treatment, such as chemotherapy or radiation, will be necessary. The standard goal in these cases is complete surgical resection of the tumor, although depending on the tumor type and location, sometimes only a sub-total resection or biopsy can be achieve.
Spinal Tumor Resection Cases
Some tumors, such as schwannomas, neurofibromas, or meningiomas, may develop in the tissue around the spinal cord and nerves. Although the majority of these tumors are benign, more aggressive varieties can occur. It is for this reason that spinal tumor resection is typically recommended in these cases as well when they are causing symptoms. Complete resection of these tumors is typically easier to achieve since they do not arise within the spinal cord, and additional treatment after surgery is seldom needed. Sometimes these types of tumors are found by accident when an MRI scan is ordered for an unrelated symptom. These incidentally found tumors, since they are causing no symptoms, can sometimes simply be followed with serial MRI scans, with surgical intervention reserved for progression on the MRI scan or the development of symptoms.
After surgery, a hospital stay is usually required for several days. Physical therapy or rehabilitation is often needed, and pain is managed with pain medication. Any additional treatment, when needed, is typically delayed for several weeks to allow the patient to recover first from the surgery. Activity is slowly increased over the next several months as the patient heals. When fully recovered, most patients can return to their previous level of activity.