Spinal Tumors- Treatment and Diagnosis
Spine surgery is a very scary prospect. It has many risks associated with it and can easily lead to permanent and irreparable damage to our nervous system. Yet, Dr. Arun Saroha is one of the top spine surgeons in Gurgaon. He is extremely talented at treating all sorts of spinal ailments with the help of spine surgery.
What are spinal tumors?
A spinal tumor is any mass present along the spine, whether it is malignant or benign in nature. They are most common in the vertebrae, spinal cord, spinal nerve roots, and dura mater. Spinal tumors are very rare and difficult to diagnose. In many cases, they are diagnosed when it is too late to do anything about it. The most common and physically perceived symptom of spinal tumors is back pain. But since pain is a very generalized symptom, a physician has to first rule out all other differential diagnoses related to the pain, before moving on to spinal tumor. This is why, in many cases, spinal tumors have diagnosed a touch too late to do anything. Pain in spinal tumors has proven to be recurring, persistent, and associated with a myriad of worsening symptoms.
One of the biggest mitigating factors for late diagnosis is that spinal tumors grow very slowly and they show a wide variety of symptoms. That is why the diagnosis process of the tumor can be quite lengthy, which has decreased quite a bit in the past few years, thanks to the advancement in sophisticated imaging options.
Which factors can lead to the formation of a spinal tumor?
Spinal tumors are, by and large, idiopathic in nature. They can develop in almost anyone, although they are a bit uncommon. In many cases, spinal tumors have been associated with patients who already have a history of cancer, especially in patients who are undergoing treatment and are currently in remission. Patients showing any abnormal or uncommon symptoms should be immediately checked and regularly screened for further tumors. The screening is especially due to the advents of different imaging techniques such as MRI scan, PET scan, etc.
What are the common symptoms of spinal tumors?
Depending on the size, location, and nature of the tumor, it can exhibit different symptoms. Some of them are:-
- Abnormal gait
- Loss of sense of position in space
- Difficulty walking in the dark
- General mid-back pain
- Pain at night
- Loss of bowel or bladder function
- Paralysis to varying degrees
- Scoliosis (curvature of the spine)
What are the potential treatments for a spinal tumor?
Spinal surgery is often only suggested for progressive and malignant tumors. In fact, in cases relating to benign spinal tumors that are asymptomatic and do not appear to be progressing or increasing in mass, physicians and neurosurgeons prefer to wait and monitor the tumor instead of performing an unnecessary and risky procedure on the patient. This is in part because it is much easier to motor tumors nowadays, thanks to advanced imaging technologies.
Although the best option for spinal tumor removal, surgery is mostly avoided as it can be quite risky. Many spinal tumors resist radiation and chemotherapy, and yet others are either too large or already pressing on nerves and causing other health issues. The biggest disadvantage of avoiding surgery for immediate spinal tumor removal is that it may eventually grow and start pressing on spinal nerves and causing complications such as paralysis, numbness, etc.
The decision to do or not do surgery does not lie solely on the surgeon. It is made by the patient after he has learned all the risks associated with it. The procedure is performed and the patient is managed by a multidisciplinary team of doctors including Spinal surgeons, Medical oncologists, Radiation oncologists, Urologists, Plastic surgeons, Neurologists, Orthopedists, and Vascular surgeons to mitigate any complication with the surgery or the treatment as soon as it occurs.
What are the risks of removing a spinal cord tumor?
Even the simplest and easiest spinal surgical procedure is much more complex and difficult than any other surgical procedure. This is because it has inherent risks. The spinal cord is mostly made of nerves that do not regenerate or repair and are extremely difficult to transplant. Even slight damage to the spinal cord can lead to permanent loss of function in any particular body part.
One of the most common ways this is exhibited is in loss of mobility due to permanent paralysis of the lower body. Operating around the spinal cord is also risky because the surgeon cannot just push aside the nerves in order to access the area behind the spinal column which causes a big accessibility issue while performing spinal surgery.
Nowadays, in order to mitigate this risk, surgeons have adopted targeted radiation technology in conjunction with precision tools and robotic surgery. These help the surgeons in making the procedure safer by minimizing errors and increasing the accuracy of the surgeons. Along with reducing errors, these advanced technologies also make the procedures much less invasive than they used to be.
What are the risks of opting out of tumor removal?
While there are risks in removing the tumor, keeping it is also dangerous as the mass may continue to grow until it has become too problematic to remove and the patient can no longer have the surgery that he had opted out of(spine surgeon in Gurgaon). The tumor growth itself can also lead to paralysis, increase chances of blood clot formation and cause other general health complications.
The tumors have to be removed on time or it might be too late to even try. The patient can begin with conservative treatment but if that doesn’t work, he should move on to aggressive treatment immediately.