Microsurgical Spinal Cord Tumor Resection

What is Spinal Cord Tumor Resection?

Spinal cord = the bundle of nerves that connect the brain to the rest of the body
Tumor = an abnormal growth

Tumors may evolve on any nerve in the body, but tumors on the spinal cord and its associated structures are rare.  When they do occur, the majority of spinal cord tumors are not cancerous and don’t often spread beyond the spinal canal.  

Therapies such as radiation or chemotherapy often have little effect on these tumors.  Thus surgical resection (removal of the tumor) may often be the preferred treatment for a spinal cord tumor.

Spinal cord tumor resection is performed for both adult and pediatric patients who have tumors on the spinal cord.  At The Spine Hospital at the Neurological Institute of New York, we specialize in  spinal cord tumor resection.

When is this Procedure Performed?

Most spinal tumors are not cancerous and don’t spread.  Very small spinal tumors may not even cause symptoms, and therefore may not need to be removed. But when these tumors compress the spinal cord or spinal nerves, a patient may experience weakness, numbness, loss of balance, difficulty walking or talking, or loss of bowel or bladder control. In these cases, microsurgical removal may be the best treatment option.   Together, neurosurgeon and patient (or patient’s guardian) will be able to assess whether surgery is the preferred treatment.

The most common tumors developing from within the spinal cord are ependymomas, astrocytomas or hemangioblastomas. Tumors such as schwannomas, neurofibromas, or meningiomas may also develop from supporting tissues outside the spinal cord.

How is this Procedure Performed?

How Should I Prepare for this Procedure?

Make sure you understand the goals of the procedure as well as what you or your child can expect after surgery. Some people find it helpful to write down their questions and bring the list of questions to their appointments.

Make sure to tell your doctor about any medications or supplements that you or the patient are taking, especially medications that can thin the blood such as aspirin. Your doctor may recommend you or the patient stop taking these medications before the procedure. To make it easier, write all the medications down before the day of surgery.

Be sure to tell your doctor if you or the patient have an allergy to any medications, food, or latex (some surgical gloves are made of latex).

On the day of surgery, remove any nail polish or acrylic nails, do not wear makeup and remove all jewelry. If staying overnight, bring items that may be needed, such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, and dentures. You will be given an ID bracelet. It will include your or the patient’s name, birthdate, and surgeon’s name.

What Can I Expect After the Procedure?

How long will I stay in the hospital?
Usually patients stay in the hospital for several days following surgery.  After a brief period of bed rest to allow for wound healing, patients work with our highly trained physical therapists to increase their activity and return home at a high level of function. In some patients additional inpatient rehabilitation may be recommended.

Will I need to take any special medications?
Postoperative discomfort is usually managed with oral pain medication for a short time period following discharge from the hospital.  Your doctor will let you know what is safe to take.

Will I need to wear a collar or a brace?
In most circumstances you will not need to wear a brace following the procedure.

When can I resume exercise?
Patients are usually encouraged to increase their activities as they are able to tolerate; however, strenuous activity is not recommended until approved by the surgeon.

Will I need rehabilitation or physical therapy?
In some cases, it may be recommended that you see a physical therapist or rehabilitation specialist. Following discharge from the hospital, patients may receive either inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation. The specifics of rehabilitation vary depending on the surgery’s location and the patient’s condition.

Will I have any long-term limitations due to microsurgical tumor removal?
In most patients there will be no long-term limitations or restrictions following microsurgical tumor removal.

Preparing for Your Appointment

Drs. Paul C. McCormick, Michael G. Kaiser, Alfred T. Ogden, Christopher E. Mandigo, Sheng-fu (Larry) LoRichard C. E. Anderson (Pediatric), and Neil A. Feldstein (Pediatric) are experts in spinal cord tumor resection.

 

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