The goal for treatment of non-malignant spinal tumors is to remove the tumor, preserve neurological function, control pain and provide structural stability to the spine. Surgical removal of spinal tumors is delicate, since the spinal cord and nerves are very sensitive to injury. The surgical procedure at Dr. Regan's private practice depends on the patient's general condition, the extent of the tumor and its location.
This surgical technique for reinforcing a vertebral body after the draining a cystic tumor involves restoring the vertebral height and injecting bone cement. A fluoroscope (an X-ray type machine) is used to view the spine. Guided by the fluoroscope, Dr. Regan, a Los Angeles spine surgeon, places a special needle directly into the collapsed vertebra.
Once the needle is properly placed, other instruments, including a special balloon, are passed into the vertebra. The balloon is then inflated by filling it with liquid solution.
The inflated balloon opens up a small cavity in the collapsed bone. Once this has been achieved, the balloon is deflated and withdrawn. Bone cement is then inserted into the void created by the balloon.
As the bone cement hardens, a solid support for the vertebra is created. The procedure lasts about 1 hour and can lead to a significant reduction in pain caused by vertebral fracture/collapse.
After tumor removal, an epoxy cement is injected into fractured vertebrae. The epoxy becomes rock-hard within minutes, yet is light and supportive. This strengthens the vertebra, reducing the chance of collapse after removal of the tumor. The vertebrae must be treated before total collapse. Other injectable bone-mineral substitutes that are similar to normal bone are being tested.
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