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Spinal Cord Tumor

Khushi Heartcare

The spinal cord is a long, fragile tubelike structure that begins at the end of the brain stem and continues down almost to the bottom of the spine. The spinal cord consists of nerves that carry incoming and outgoing messages between the brain and the rest of the body. It is also the centre for reflexes, such as the knee jerk reflex.

Spinal cord tumors are much less common than brain tumors. Spinal cord tumors may be

  1. Primary spinal cord tumors may be cancerous or noncancerous. Primary spinal cord tumors may originate in the cells within or next to the spinal cord. Only about one third of primary spinal cord tumors originate in the cells within the spinal cord. These tumors can extend within the cord, block the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord), and cause a fluid-filled cavity (syrinx) to form..
  2. Secondary spinal cord tumors which are more common, are metastases of cancer originating in another part of the body and thus are always cancerous. Metastases most commonly spread to the vertebrae from cancers that originate in other parts of the body.

Depending on the location within the cord itself they are classified as :

  1. Intramedullary tumors such as gliomas, astrocytomas or ependymomas.
  2. Extramedullary tumors such as meningiomas, neurofibromas, schwannomas and nerve sheath tumours.

Tumor resection is performed for both adult and paediatric tumours involving the spinal cord. Under careful electrophysiological monitoring the surgeon uses an operating microscope with high magnification and illumination to ensure maximum safe resection of the tumor under microscope.