Posted by: wockhardthospitals | July 24, 2009

Spinal Tumor:symptoms,causes,diagnosis & treatment

By Dr D.V. Rajkumar, Consultant Neuro Surgeon, Wockhardt Hospitals

Spinal tumour is a growth of cells or an abnormal mass of tissues referred to as Neoplasm located in and around the spine i.e. the neck, back and lower back. The occurrence of spinal cord tumours is generally rare and it can leave a patient with neurological damage and other disabilities due to the pressure exerted by the tumour on the spinal cord. Early diagnosis and effective treatment is the key to the successful treatment and recovery form spinal Tumour.

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The Symptoms of Spinal Tumour depends on the type of tumour and its location. Almost all symptoms involve pain that worsens when the patient rests flat on his or her back.

Some of the common symptoms are:

* Loss of feeling/sensitivity especially in the legs
* Clod sensation in the legs and the body extremities
* Shooting pain that runs down the legs
* Acute back pain that worsens over time
* Distinct muscular weakness concentrated in the legs often causing falls and making walking difficult
* In the advanced stage the bladder and the bowel functions will be affected

The exact causes of Spinal Tumour are still a subject of discussion. Many researches have attributed the cause to genetic factors.

In hereditary disorders it is observed that tumours generally develop in the arachnoid’s layer (membrane) of the spinal cord or in the supporting glial (non-neuronal cells that provide support and nutrition) cells.

There are three classifications of spinal tumour based on the location
* Extradural – outside the dura (the outermost of the three layers of the membrane surrounding the brain mater lining)
* Intradural – part of the dura
* Intramedullary – inside the spinal cord

The Diagnosis consists of an evaluation of the symptoms followed by a through physical examination; some of the tests prescribed are as follows

A X-Ray of the spine, an MRI scan, an MRA scan, Spinal CT, Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) examination, Antidiuretic hormone (ADH) test, Cytology (cell studies) of CSF

The Treatment of spinal tumours is far more effective when the tumour is diagnoses early. The treatment varies on the type of tumour, the location and the extent of involvement of the vertebra. Many spinal tumours can be treated with very good results through treatment that involves the reduction of the size of the tumour and hence the alleviation of pressure on the spinal cord. Treatments include radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Corticosteroids (steroid treatment) may be administered to reduce inflammation and swelling.

Surgery may be resorted to relieve pressure on the spinal cord, in some cases the tumour can be completely removed through surgery.


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