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Surgery to Take Pressure Off the Nerves

Chapter 13

Removal of Spinal Tumors

Tumor locations relative to the spinal cord.

(A)  The tumor (t) is outside the dura membranes (epidural) but is anterior to the spinal cord in the vertebral bone – a common location for a metastasis from breast, prostate or lung cancer. This tumor will need surgery from the front, through the abdomen or chest.

(B)  Posterior epidural tumor – this can be removed from the back. An ultrasonic aspirator (E) can gently brush away the tumor without adding any pressure to the spinal cord. Aspirator outline from illustration reproduced with permission of Valleylab and Tyco Healthcare Group, LP.

(C)  Some tumors occur inside the dura membranes but outside the spinal cord itself  - this is typical of a benign meningioma. The dura must be repaired or replaced when it is removed.

(D)   A tumor inside the spinal cord itself is the most difficult to remove.