HealthWACH: Zapping away spinal tumors

HealthWACH: Zapping away spinal tumors


A spinal tumor can affect the nerves surrounding the tumor and may lead to neurological problems such as paralysis. Spinal tumors may cause permanent disability even if the tumor is benign. Once the tumors grow, they can affect bones of the spine, nerve roots, blood vessels, and spinal cord cells. Leukemia, myeloma, and lymphoma are all types of tumors that can occur in the spine.

In most cases, it is unclear why spinal tumors are formed. Some doctors will say that genetics is a big underlying factor. For example, there have been cases where spinal tumors have been linked to inherited syndromes like von Hippel-Lindau disease and neurofibromatosis type 2. Spinal tumors affect the vertebrae, which are made up of small bones that are stacked on top of one another, protect the nerve root and spinal cord. The spinal cord is a long column of nerve fibers that carry messages to the brain. These parts of the spine are the most likely to be affected by spinal tumors.

Symptoms of a spinal tumor vary depending on the location and type of the tumor. Typically, symptoms include:

  • Back pain, often radiating to other parts of your body

  • Decreased sensitivity to pain, heat and cold

  • Difficulty walking, sometimes leading to falls

  • Paralysis that may occur in varying degrees and in different parts of your body, depending on which nerves are compressed.

A radiofrequency (RF) ablation procedure performed with the STARâ?¢ Tumor Ablation System is a dramatic step forward in the palliative treatment of metastatic spinal tumors. Accessing the tumor may only require local anesthesia with conscious sedation and a small incision. As with most surgical procedures, serious adverse events can occur. Risks can include: pain, infection, hematoma, hemorrhage, and nerve injury leading to radiculopathy, paresis, or paralysis, damage to surrounding tissue through iatrogenic injury, hemothorax or pneumothorax, unintended puncture wounds, and pulmonary embolism