Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: April 12, 2018
Intermedullary tumors are a type of tumor that involves the spinal cord. Depending on the size, location and type of intermedullary tumor you are dealing with, your doctor may recommend a variety of different treatment options. We explore those treatment techniques below.
Types of Intermedullary Tumor Treatments
Intramedullary tumors develop from the cells of the spinal cord. In most cases, these tumors are benign, but they should all be examined to rule out the potential for cancer. They are most common in the cervical region of the neck. Because these tumors grow from and are directly connected to the cells of the spinal cord, treatment without affecting other structures is difficult. However, doctors will often attempt to treat the tumor using one or more of these techniques.
- Monitoring – In cases where the tumor is identified when looking for another condition like a herniated disc, monitoring may be the only technique needed, assuming it is not causing any symptoms. That being said, if there are signs that suggest the tumor is growing or could grow, a simple surgery may be recommended before it snowballs into a larger problem.
- Surgery – With new technological advancements, surgeons are finding easier ways to remove intermedullary tumors while preserving as much neurological function as possible. Because excision techniques have improved so much in the past decades, surgery is the preferred treatment method for the majority of intermedullary tumors.
- Radiation – Radiation will play a role in treatment intermedullary tumors that can’t be operated on or those that can’t fully be removed due to their relation to other structures in the spine. Concentrated radiation is directed into the tumor to disrupt its function and shrink its cells. This technique is usually used in combination with other treatment options.
- Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy generally isn’t used for most intermedullary tumors, but if the tumor has formed because it metastasized from another location, chemotherapy may be an effective option.
Your specific treatment is determined based on the size, location and likelihood that the growth will become problematic if it grew bigger. Your surgeon will walk you through all your options and go over the potential risks and rewards of all treatment options before moving forward with a technique.
MN Spine Tumor Surgeon
You will likely need a day or two of bed rest following surgery to help the surgical wound heal. Once you have demonstrated that you can eat, walk and use the bathroom on your own, you will be discharged home. Full recovery from the effects of the surgery can take 3-4 weeks, and total recovery can take much longer, depending on how removal of the tumor affected your balance, spinal strength or sensations. A focused physical therapy program can help you make a full recovery in the weeks and months after intermedullary tumor removal.