Tumors can develop in various places, like the brain or spinal cord. You may need nonsurgical treatment or surgery to diagnose or remove them. Their presence poses a serious threat to your health and well-being and may lead to severe complications. If you or a loved one is facing this condition, understanding the treatment process can ease anxiety and provide valuable insight.
Here, we’ll provide an overview of how spine surgeons treat tumors.
Spinal and brain tumors are abnormal growths arising from various tissues within the spine and brain. They can be primary or metastatic, with the latter spreading from other parts of the body.
They may develop in bones, cartilage, spinal discs, blood vessels, peripheral nerves, or membranes surrounding the spinal cord.
Overview of Nonsurgical Options
Nonsurgical treatment options, such as medications and radiation therapy, are usually the first line of treatment. However, if these approaches prove ineffective, your spine surgeon may recommend surgery.
High-energy beams are used to target and destroy tumor cells, often in combination with surgery or chemotherapy.
This treatment can be beneficial in cases where the tumor cannot be entirely removed or has spread to other areas.
This treatment uses drugs to kill cancer cells or stop their growth. It can be administered orally, intravenously, or directly into the cerebrospinal fluid to target tumor cells more effectively.
Surgery for Tumors
The primary treatment for many brain and spinal tumors involves having a skilled neurosurgeon remove the tumor. They aim to get rid of as much of the tumor as possible while preserving surrounding healthy tissue.
Depending on the tumor’s size, type, and location, your provider may choose from several surgical approaches. These can include:
- Performing a complete tumor removal if the tumor is at a safe distance from nerves and the spinal cord
- Using high-frequency sound waves to break up tumors and remove fragments if the tumor is in a dangerous location
- Combining surgery with radiation therapy or chemotherapy if the tumor cannot be fully removed
A careful evaluation is required to determine if surgery is appropriate for your specific case.
Brain Biopsy: Precision and Accuracy
A stereotactic biopsy, which utilizes CT or MRI scans to assess the tumor’s location and size, may be performed by your practitioner. In some cases, a tiny hole is drilled through the skull. Then, a specialized needle is inserted to obtain a tumor sample.
Alternatively, a craniotomy may be performed to access the tumor. It is a procedure involving the removal of a skull bone section.
If surgery is deemed suitable, a craniotomy is performed to access the tumor site. The spine surgeon then utilizes specialized surgical scissors, a scalpel, or an ultrasonic aspirator to remove the tumor. In some instances, a suction device may be used to extract soft tumors without an aspirator.
Throughout this surgery, your doctor may use these technologies for enhanced precision:
- Cortical mapping
- Fluorescence-guided surgery
Cortical mapping involves sending electrical stimuli to the brain to identify and avoid areas responsible for critical functions. Fluorescence-guided surgery is used for certain tumor types, such as glioblastomas. This method involves administering a fluorescent dye that the tumor absorbs. This process causes the tumor to glow, enabling the surgeon to distinguish it from surrounding brain tissue.
Biopsy: Navigating Delicate Terrain
For spinal cord tumor biopsies, a skilled practitioner may rely on a CT scan to navigate the needle toward the tumor. From there, tissue or fluid samples will be extracted for examination.
Surgery: Protecting Vital Structures
Your physician may use a high-powered magnifying device and continuously monitor spinal cord function to ensure your safety. In some instances, sound waves are directed toward the tumor to break it up.
Alternatively, the neurosurgeon may remove the tumor manually without fragmentation. It’s essential to note that the tumor may not always be entirely removed through surgery. However, the doctor will strive to eliminate as much as safely possible.
Preparation, Risks, & Recovery
Before undergoing spinal tumor surgery, it’s essential to follow preoperative instructions, like:
- Quitting or reducing smoking
- Avoiding alcohol consumption 24 hours before surgery
- Fasting for eight hours before the procedure
- Discussing any medications, vitamins, or supplements, you take with a healthcare professional
As with any surgery, the removal of a tumor carries potential risks, such as stiffness, numbness, bleeding, and nerve injury. Recovery from tumor surgery can take a few weeks. Thus, it’s essential to follow your healthcare provider’s post-operative instructions and attend follow-up appointments.
Top Spine Surgeon in Aurora, CO
Standard tumor treatment by spine surgeons is a complex and delicate process that requires a high level of skill and precision. Are you looking for the top spine surgeon in Aurora, CO? At Front Range Spine and Neurosurgery, our expert team is committed to providing the best possible care for all. With state-of-the-art techniques and equipment, we ensure the safety and well-being of our patients throughout their treatment journey.
Our board-certified specialists, Dr. Michael Rauzzino and Dr. Kevin Boyer have extensive experience treating spinal tumors and helping patients live pain-free. To schedule an appointment or learn more about our services, call us at (303) 790-1800. You can also fill out our online appointment request form. With locations in Lone Tree, Parker, Colorado Springs, and Aurora, we are here to be your lifetime healthcare partner.
Contact us today and take the first step toward a healthier future.