Tumors of the Spinal Cord


Although not common, primary tumors involving the spinal cord merit consideration for two important clinical reasons: In diagnosis they are often mistaken for other more common conditions, with consequent errors in treatment and serious results due to delayed surgical intervention. In our experience1, about 50 per cent of these tumors prove to be of such a nature that they may be removed completely and a favorable prognosis given as regards life and restoration of normal function.

Any part of the spine or of the contents of the spinal canal may be the site of origin of a neoplasm. Various types of bone tumors and cartilaginous tumors may arise from the vertebrae and intervertebral disks and cause compression of the spinal nerve roots or of the spinal cord. Lipoma or sarcoma of the epidural connective tissue may occur. Angiomatous tumors may arise from extradural blood vessels or from those of the cord itself. The most common primary tumors are the neurofibroma which arises from the spinal nerve roots, the meningioma which arises from the meninges, and the glioma originating in the glial tissue of the spinal cord. Other less common tumors are the congenital dermoid and the pigmented nevus. Metastatic lesions from primary malignant tumors in other parts of the body may lodge in the spine and give rise to symptoms simulating those of primary spinal cord tumor. These, therefore, must be considered also in differential diagnosis. The breast, the prostate, and the kidney (hyper-nephroma) are the most common primary sites. . .



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