Spinal Tumors

Spinal tumors can develop in vertebral column and spinal cord. These tumors can develop in the regions such as neck, back, waist or sacral region.

Spinal tumors are classified as intramedullary and extramedullary tumors. Children are more tended to experience with such tumors compared with adults. The most frequently detected intramedullary tumors are neurofibromas  and meningiomas. Other tumors which are frequently detected are schwannomas and embryonal tumors.

What are the symptoms of spinal tumors?

Based upon their locations intramedullary tumors are seen in children in the ratio of 40 percent, while they are seen in the ratio of 20 percent in adults. The prevalence of extramedullary tumors, however, is 50 percent in children while it is 20 percent in adults except metastatic tumors.

The most frequent symptom in adults is pain while loss of strength in extremity is most frequent symptom in pediatric cases. Waist and back pain are the second most frequent symptom. Extremity pain is detected in the third sequence. Muscle spasm and sensational changes are among the other detectable symptoms. Those children presenting with spinal tumors sometimes can occasionally suffer from hydrocephalus (fluid retention in brain).

Symptoms which can be detected during the examination of a child presenting with spinal tumor are loss of strength, reflex changes, and sensational abnormalities, respectively. Scoliosis (sideway curve), kyphosis (kyphotic curvature of spine), muscular dystrophy, regional sensitivity, muscle spasm, palpable mass as well as torticollis can be detected during the examination.

How to establish diagnosis of spinal tumors?

Spinal tumors can be easily detected with x-ray, MRI, tomography, myelography, bone scintigraphic imaging and angio. Nevertheless, these techniques cannot be sufficient for every patient. Based upon the locations, and age of the patient, further laboratory tests may be required, as well.

How to treat spinal tumors?

Benign tumors not causing serious symptoms and not aggressively spreading can be followed up with frequent scans. Nonsurgical methods include chemotherapy and radiation therapies.

Malignant spinal tumors primarily arising from spine are generally treated with surgical intervention. The objective of surgical intervention is to remove the malignant tumor away from body immediately.

Surgical interventions in both adults and pediatric patients have the same objectives:

  • Cellular diagnosis,
  • Recovery of nerves,
  • Ruling out the pain,
  • Removal of tumor,
  • Maintenance of spinal mobility (such motions which are directly responded by spinal cord but not brain)

Following the surgical intervention, physical therapy and rehabilitation may be required, as well. Long term follow up is required for preventing the recurrence of tumor.

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