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Vertebral Body Tumors

Spinal tumors are abnormal growths of tissue found inside the spinal column. Primary tumors originate in the spine and are caused by uncontrollable growth among cells that reside in the spinal column or neural tissues. Considered rare, primary tumors of the spine can be benign or malignant and their cause is unknown. Secondary tumors are ones which spread to the spine from some other part of the body. Most often times, the primary cause of these tumors is breast, lung and kidney cancers.
Tumors which arise or spread to the spine present some of the most difficult challenges for patients and physicians as they can cause several types of problems. First, the tumor may weaken the bone, causing it to fracture and collapse. As a result, the patient suffers severe pain from excess pressure on nerves or the spinal cord. Additionally, the tumor can expand outside the bone, also causing pressure on nerves or the spinal cord. And finally, some tumors can cause the bone to expand, similarly placing pressure on surrounding tissues.
The primary symptom of a spinal tumor, and the one that brings most patients to the doctor’s office, is non-mechanical back pain. Non-mechanical back pain is constant and does not improve with rest or lying down. Mechanical back pain, on the other hand, is most often caused by muscle strains or disc injury and usually worsens with activities such as sitting, bending, and walking. It does improve with rest or lying down.
Other symptoms of spinal tumors may include sciatica, numbness, partial paralysis, spinal deformity, difficulty with bladder control and fever. These symptoms generally develop slowly and worsen over time unless they are treated.

Vertebral Body Tumors Treatment

Depending on the type of tumor and the symptoms it is causing, different treatments can be used to treat vertebral body tumors. If there is collapse of the bone, a procedure called vertebroplasty may be performed by inserting a needle through the skin into the bone using x-ray guidance and injecting cement to strengthen the bone. If the tumor causes pressure on nerves or the spinal cord, surgery may be considered. In the event that the tumor has a large blood supply, which can complicate surgery, endovascular techniques may be employed by inserting a catheter into the blood vessels supplying the tumor and injecting materials to block off the blood supply to the mass. This procedure, called embolization, is usually performed within a few days of the impending surgery. If surgery is not recommended or possible, embolization may be performed to shrink the tumor.
In some cases, a needle can be placed directly into the tumor using x-ray guidance and material can be injected to kill the tumor. Some tumors are best treated with radiation therapy.


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