Young Meerut professional successfully celebrated Diwali with his family after undergoing a complex surgery in his spinal cord, which otherwise could have been life threatening. After experiencing episodes of numbness and weakness in both his arms and legs, 34 year old patient Aditya Bansal had made several local consultations, where MRI of the neck revealed a non-cancerous tumor sitting inside the spinal cord. The patient and his family members were totally devastated and worried about the complex disease and decided to visit Artemis Hospital for advanced treatment options. Detailed examination of his spine revealed a benign tumor in the cervical part of his spine that had caused weakness, numbness and gradual deterioration of his balance. Such tumors are technically known as intramedullary tumors which are one of the riskiest tumors to be removed, as in some cases, post-surgical events may result in permanent weakness in all the forelimbs. Pertaining to the size and location of the tumor and his deteriorating condition, he was advised for non-invasive cyberknife procedure. Thankfully the surgery went very well, and we were able to remove the entire tumor from the cervical spinal cord. And immediately after surgery, the patient was able to move his arms and legs freely and was able to walk with minimal support.
Spinal tumor types: It is the growth of tumour that develops within the bones of spine. It can be Benign or malignant. There are three common types of tumors that may affect the spinal cord.
1) Intra-medullary Tumors – It develops in cells that are present within the spinal cord. Examples are Astrocytoma and Ependymoma.
2) Extra-medullary Tumors – It develops within the supporting network of cells that are around the spinal cord. This type of tumor affects the spinal cord function. Examples are Meningiomas, Schwannomas, Neurofibromas.
3) Vertebral Column Tumors
a)Primary Tumors: It occurs in the vertebral column and develops either from the bone or disc of spine. Osteogenic Sarcoma is the bone tumour which comes under this category. These are very rare and grow slowly and typically occur from the age group 21-50.
b)Metastatic Tumors: This Tumor spread from one area to another area of the body. The pain is worse and is accompanied by other signs of serious illness such as weight loss, fever, chills, nausea and vomiting. The growth of any kind of spinal tumor can lead to pain, neurological problems and sometimes, it can be life-threatening and can even cause permanent disability. In women, spinal tumor spread from cancer cells that originate from breasts or lungs whereas in, in case of Men, it spreads from tumor cells that originate from lungs or prostate.
What are the symptoms? As the tumor grows, it affects the spinal cord, gradually. Depending on the location and the type of tumor, the severity may vary from person to person. The usual symptoms include back pain, loss of sensation especially in legs and arms, difficulty in walking, decrease in body immunity and sensitivity to pain, increase in heat and cold sensitivity, loss of bowel movement control and muscle weakness. Back pain is the early and the foremost symptom in both cancerous and noncancerous tumors.
Why cyberknife is preferred over other methods of treatment? Though many other treatment methods may be available for treating spinal tumors but due to the advantage of being totally non-invasive and eliminates the requirement of any kind of anesthetics, cyberknife is a very useful tool saving the patient’s time and helping in better and quicker recovery. Cyberknife radiation surgery is a form of radio surgery that uses precisely targeted radiation to destroy tumors. This system is non-invasive and prevents any kind of blood loss eliminating the need for anesthesia. Treatment for spinal tumors remaining a challenge in India, due to the reason that only limited technology is available, and also the fact that the spine is sensitive and can receive only limited amount of radiation. Cyber knife being flexible in producing radiations is one of the best options for treatment of spinal tumor. The cyber knife system is unique designed robotic system that delivers high-precision surgical procedures.
(The author is Director, Neurosurgery and Cyberknife Centre, Agrim institute for neuro sciences, Artemis Hospital New Delhi. Views are his own)