Spinal Tumors Surgery - Advances in Technology and Techniques

Spinal Tumor Surgery

Advances in medical technology have made it possible, using improved techniques and instruments, to perform spinal tumor surgery to remove tumors that once were considered inoperable.

When is spinal tumor surgery recommended?

Spinal tumor surgery is often recommended for both benign and malignant tumors of the spine for those that can be removed with little risk of nerve damage. Surgery for spinal tumors is used in some cases before, and in other cases after non-surgical treatment is started.

Spinal tumor surgery is considered when:

  • Pain does not respond to non-surgical treatments
  • Damage to the nerves continues to progress despite non-surgical treatments
  • A specimen needs to be obtained
  • The nerve roots or the spinal cord are compressed by the tumor
  • Vertebrae are damaged by the tumor
  • Stabilization of the spine is needed

The primary goals of spinal tumor surgery are to:

  • Reduce pain
  • Restore or maintain the patient’s neurologic function
  • Restore spinal stability

Spinal tumor surgery risks

New technology and advanced surgical techniques has decreased some of the risks associated with spinal tumor surgery. Microsurgery, using highly sensitive microscopes gives surgeons the ability to detect differences in tumors and healthy tissues. Electrodes can be used to assess nerve functions. Sound waves are sometimes used to break up tumors so they can be removed.    

Side effects of spinal tumor surgery can include:

  • A temporary loss of sensation or numbness
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Nerve damage

Not all spine tumors can be totally removed with spinal tumor surgery. In these cases, chemotherapy or radiation may still be needed.

Recovering from spinal tumor surgery

How long a patient who has had spinal tumor surgery stays in the hospital depends partly on what type of operation was performed. Following hospital discharge, patients who have had surgery for a spinal tumor are closely monitored by visits to their physician.

Follow up monitoring of patients who have had spinal tumor surgery is important because some types of tumors treated with spinal tumor surgery may reoccur. This includes malignant as well as benign tumors.

Treatment following spinal tumor surgery sometimes includes chemotherapy and/or radiation treatments. Side effects from chemotherapy treatments can include:

  • Loss of appetite and weigh loss
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weakness and fatigue 

The side effects from radiation can be similar, in addition to redness and pain of the skin at the site of treatment. Many of the side effects of cancer treatments can be treated with medications and when the treatment period is ended, the symptoms resolve.  

Spinal tumor surgery alone, or in combination with chemotherapy and/or radiation can drain the patient’s nutritional stores. Diet plays a vital role following spinal tumor surgery in helping patients to regain weight that has been lost and regain strength. Nutritionists are sometimes consulted to assist in dietary management.

Depending on a patient’s health status, physical therapy may also be suggested to help patients who have had spinal tumor surgery regain strength, flexibility, and activity tolerance. 

Treatments, Spinal Tumors Surgery2-1