Tumors are simply an abnormal growth of tissue, whether benign or malignant. When they form in or around the spinal cord, they can upset the connection between the brain and the nerves, or they can inhibit the spinal cord’s blood supply. These are known as intradural spinal tumors, and they often require surgical removal.
Our skilled neurosurgeons at Texas Neurosurgery perform these procedures at our Dallas locations.
Spinal cord tumors
Spinal cord tumors arise in the spinal cord itself or adjacent to the spinal cord. They occur on all regions of the spine. Those that occur within the spinal cord are termed intradural intramedullary spinal cord tumors. There are several types of these intradural intramedullary spinal cord tumors: astrocytomas, ependymomas, hemangioblastomas, and metastatic cancers.
Tumors that occur alongside the spinal cord are called intradural extramedullary spinal cord tumors. These include meningiomas, schwannomas, neurofibromas, and myxopapillary ependymomas.
What are the symptoms with these tumors?
These tumors typically cause symptoms in the arms and/or legs. This includes gradually worsening muscle weakness, which may lead to sensory loss, loss of function, or abnormal sensations, bladder and bowel control problems, incontinence and constipation, and back pain.
Generally, the area where symptoms are experienced can then be used to trace back the area of the spine where the tumor is causing the nerve compression.
These tumors usually require surgical removal by our Texas Neurosurgery team. These are usually performed through a laminectomy, where entry is gained through the back of the vertebrae, usually removing part of the lamina on the back of the vertebra. The dura, a protective membrane that surrounds the spinal cord, is opened to expose the spinal cord and the nerve roots exiting the cord. The tumor is then removed as completely as possible.
A laser is used to help our surgeons reach these tumors in many cases. The use of a laser lowers the risk of complications, plus lasers increase the chances that the entire tumor can be removed without damaging nearby nerve tissue.