Regis W. Haid, Jr., MD, Spine Surgeon
A spinal tumor is a cancerous (malignant) or noncancerous (benign) growth that develops within or near your spinal cord or within the bones of your spine. Although back pain is the most common indication of a spinal tumor, most back pain is associated with stress, strain and aging — not with a tumor.
In most areas of the body, noncancerous tumors aren't particularly concerning. Unfortunately, that is not necessarily the case with spinal tumors. The tumor or growth can impinge on nerves, thus leading to pain, neurological problems or even paralysis.
How is a Spinal Tumor Diagnosed?
Tumors of the spine itself may be either primary or metastatic. Primary tumors are often benign and generally occur in patients younger than 30 years of age. Metastatic tumors of the spine are much more common than primary tumors. They grow faster and may appear in multiple areas of the spine. Approximately 25-33% of all patients with metastases will have some spinal involvement.
The first step in diagnosis is the history. Dr. Haid may ask you questions like:
There will also be a neurologic exam. As part of the exam Dr. Haid will test strength in your arms and legs, along with your reflexes and sensations. Range of motion in your neck will be examined.
If a spinal tumor is suspected, various diagnostic studies are useful in different situations. These include x-rays, CT Scans and MRI's. If there is no previous tissue diagnosis and you are medically stable, surgery for abiopsy and possible even definitive treatment may be the first treatment option.
If you plan to travel to Atlanta for treatment by Dr. Haid, we will require all of your previous imagery and diagnostic results.