Spinal Cord Tumours
The spine, spinal cord and spinal nerves can be affected by several different types of tumours. Surgery for spinal cord tumours is a specialised area of surgery and Dr Ball has expertise in the management of these conditions.
The spinal cord and nerves are contained in a sac made of a tissue called dura. Intradural spinal cord tumours grow within this dural sac, in or around the spinal cord and nerves.
These spinal cord tumours can grow outside the spinal cord (extramedullary) or inside the spinal cord (intramedullary).
Intradural Extramedullary Spinal Cord Tumours
These are tumours that grow in the area around the spinal cord and nerves. The most common types include –
meningioma : this tumour grows from cells in the dura and expands towards the spinal cord and nerves. They are mostly slow growing, benign (non-cancerous) tumours.
schwannoma : this tumour grows from cells in the spinal nerves (Schwann cells). They are often attached to a spinal nerve. They are mostly slow growing, benign (non-cancerous) tumours.
Other types of intradural extramedullary spinal tumours include neurofibromas, haemangiomas and metastases (cancer spread). Other conditions may mimic tumours, such as arachnoid, epidermoid and dermoid cysts.
Some tumours can be observed. Those causing significant symptoms or spinal cord/nerve compression may require surgery.
Intradural Intramedullary Spinal Cord Tumours
These are tumours that grow in the spinal cord itself. The most common types arise from glial cells and include –
ependymoma : this tumour grows from ependymal cells lining the central canal of the spinal cord.
astrocytomas : this tumour grows from astrocytic cells that support the nerve cells of the spinal cord.
Other types of intradural intramedullary spinal tumours include cavernomas, haemangioblastomas and metastases (cancer spread).
Some tumours can be observed. Those growing rapidly or causing significant spinal cord symptoms may require surgery.
Surgery for Spinal Cord Tumours
Every spinal cord tumour is different and every surgery for spinal cord tumour is different. The general steps in a spinal tumour operation are –
- laminectomy : removal of bone from back of spine.
- durotomy : opening of dura to get access to spinal cord.
- removal of spinal tumour : technique varies according to type of spinal tumour.
- dural closure : sewing dura back together.
- wound closure : muscles, tissues and skin sewed back together.
Videos of Surgery
Click here. Warning – these include graphic imagery of surgical procedures.