HOW ARE SPINAL CORD TUMORS DIAGNOSED?
A spinal cord tumor is an abnormal mass of tissues grown inside the spinal column, it may be present in the lining of the spinal cord (dura) or within the spinal cord. These tumors may be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous) in nature. They are classified into two main groups i.e. primary and secondary. Primary spinal cord tumors are those which originate within it however secondary tumors are those that are metastasized from cancer from another body part i.e. lungs, breast etc.
The initial diagnosis is made by a thorough medical examination, including general physical and neurological exams and laboratory tests mainly radiological tests. These tests include X-ray, CT scan, biopsy, bone scan, MRI etc. Multiple tests are done in order to attain accurate results and to identify the actual type and location of the tumor.
- MAGNETIC RESONANT IMAGING (MRI):
MRI is usually preferred for accurate results, as it shows a clear image of the spinal cord and the surrounding tissues. It uses a contrast agent to highlight the affected area that is injected through a vein into your body. It provides a three-dimensional image that includes all the degenerations, tumors, or any other abnormalities.
X-ray is done to see the bony structure of the spine and its outline. However, they are not considered very reliable.
- CT SCAN:
Ct scans are done in order to evaluate the size and shape of the spinal canal, it is also useful to visualize the bony structures and the contents inside the spinal canal.
- Bone Scan:
Technetium-99 is used in the bone scan. It is used to identify bony tumors and infections.
These tumors can be treated by surgical or non-surgical methods. This decision depends on the age and overall health of the patient as well as the outcome goals.