Spinal Cord Tumours

Spinal tumours are abnormal mass of tissue which occur within or surrounding the spinal cord, also known as the spinal column. Tumours occur when the cells grow and multiply hastily. Spinal tumours may be non-cancerous, (benign) or cancerous (malignant).

People who have been diagnosed with spinal cord tumours, experience symptoms such as pain at the site of the tumour, back pain which may radiate to other parts of the body, muscle weakness and loss of bowel or bladder function depending on the location of the tumour.

When are spinal cord tumours resected?

Spinal cord tumours may be removed if they are at risk of damaging the spinal cord or nerves, or seem to be growing larger. If they are putting pressure on the spinal cord and leading to the above mentioned symptoms, surgery may be needed to alleviate symptoms. Early diagnosis is essential for early treatment; therefore, it's important to seek medical attention when:

  • You have back pain that may be persistent and progressive
  • You have progressive muscle weakness or numbness in your arms or legs
  • You have changes in your bowel or bladder function

How are spinal cord tumours resected?

The location of the spinal tumour determines the approach of the resection procedure. Your neurosurgeon will either use the posterior or the anterior approach. The posterior approach is performed for tumours that are positioned in the back of the spinal column. This approach aids the surgeon to identify the dura and expose the nerve root. The anterior approach on the other hand is ideal for tumours that are in front of the spine as this approach allows the surgeon to reconstruct any defects which may be caused by the removal of the vertebral bodies.  The main goal for spinal cord tumour surgery is to remove or resect the tumour as much as possible to reduce pressure and symptoms, without damaging or scaring the surrounding tissues. Dr Maharaj may recommend that radiation or chemotherapy to be done after surgery if the tumour is found to be malignant.

  • Wilder Penfield

    The brain is an organ of density. It holds within its humming mechanism secrets that will determine the future of the human race.

    Wilder Penfield