Spinal tumors are abnormal growth of tissue anywhere along the spinal column. They are categorized according to the spinal region or the location within the spine where they occur. If you are struggling with spinal tumors Edison Dr. Jeff Pan, is ready to get the heavy load off your shoulders.
Types of spinal tumors
The type of spinal tumor is defined by the area it occurs on the spine. It can either be cervical, thoracic, lumbar, or sacrum. The most common regions affected are the lower back (thoracic) and the mid to upper back (thoracic).
Neurosurgeons can also categorize abnormal tissue growth depending on the area within the spine it affects. Spinal tumors can either be benign or cancerous. The different types of spinal tumors may include:
Intramedullary spinal tumors
Intramedullary tumors emerge from the inside of the spinal column. They grow on the ependymal cells, neuronal cells lining the backbone’s central canal. They are distinct from growths developing on structures outside or around the spine.
Intramedullary tumors account for between 5 and 10% of tumors that affect the central nervous system. Symptoms emerge gradually due to the slow nature of the growth.
The symptoms are challenging to discern from typical signs of back pain. Its location within the spinal canal also makes diagnosis and treatment difficult.
The most common treatment for intramedullary tumors is surgical excision. It requires the expertise and experience of a skilled surgeon to maintain spinal stability while ensuring optimal outcomes.
Intradural-extramedullary tumors describe abnormal tissue growth that occurs inside the outermost layer of the spine, the dura. But unlike intramedullary tumors, the location is not within the spinal canal. It accounts for approximately 40% of spinal tumors.
Meningiomas are intradural-extramedullary tumors that occur on the spinal cord’s arachnoid membrane. Most meningiomas are benign but their location makes the growth complicated to remove. They are more prevalent in middle-aged and older women.
Nerve sheath tumor is another type of intradural-extramedullary tumor that affects the nerve roots of the spinal cord. The growth emerges gradually and may take years before patients notice neurological anomalies.
Extradural spinal tumors
Extradural tumors grow on the outer part of the spine’s dura. The growth may also appear on the vertebrae, the bone of the spinal column. They often spread from a cancerous tumor to other parts of the body. It accounts for 55% of the tumors occurring on the site.
The spinal column is the most common area affected by bone metastasis. The growth often spreads from lung, breast, and prostate cancer.
Symptoms of spinal tumors
Most patients experience pain without any trauma or injury on the spine. The sensations of discomfort increase gradually and may intensify at night. Neural compression worsens the pain during the later phases of the spinal tumor.
Severe cases of the spinal tumor may cause muscle weakness, bowel control problems, and sexual dysfunction. Your neurosurgeon will ask you about the symptoms. X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans are invaluable for confirming the diagnosis.
Contact Jeff Pan, MD, to schedule a spinal tumor evaluation and learn more about the treatment options today.