Surgical removal of a spine tumor is indicated for patients who may benefit from the tumor removal, either in terms of removing the cancer and/or lessening any severe symptoms associated with the tumor.

There are many types of surgery that may be considered as part of treatment for a spinal tumor. In general, there are two categories of surgery:

  • Minimally invasive surgery - surgical approaches that include relatively small incision(s)
  • Open surgery - more extensive surgical procedures that require larger incision(s)

Minimally invasive procedures are more commonly performed, although open (more extensive) surgical procedures may be an option in certain cases.

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Minimally Invasive Surgery for Spine Tumors

Surgery is considered minimally invasive when it involves small incisions (e.g. ½ inch) and minimal tissue disruption. Most minimally invasive procedures are done on an outpatient basis, meaning that the patient can go home the same day, and have relatively short recovery times.

Vertebral Fracture Treatments
Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty, also referred to as vertebral augmentation, are typically reliable procedures designed to provide pain relief for patients who have a vertebral fracture associated with a spinal tumor.

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    Vertebroplasty
    This procedure involves inserting a needle through a small incision in the back so that a medical-grade bone cement can be inserted into a fractured vertebra to fill in the empty spaces and act as an internal cast to stabilize the bone. The treatment is designed to reduce pain, prevent further collapse of the vertebra, and restore the patient's mobility.

    Kyphoplasty (Vertebral Augmentation)
    Kyphoplasty also involves injecting bone cement into a vertebra, and involves the additional step of first inserting a balloon into the bone and inflating the balloon to create a cavity. This treatment is designed to stop the pain caused by a spinal fracture, and to stabilize the bone via an internal cast.

Transarterial Chemoembolization
This procedure involves a small incision in the thigh for access to the femoral artery. A catheter guided by a wire is directed through the vascular system to the tumor with the aid of imaging. Once the tumor is located, a chemotherapeutic agent is injected directly into the tumor to shrink or destroy the tumor to remove pressure on individual nerve roots or the spinal cord.

Continue reading to learn more about open surgery for spine tumors.

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