Spinal tumors can result in damage to the spine and adjacent structures to the point where fractures or cracks develop, especially when such growths need to be removed. Scientists are experimenting with a new technique that could reduce the risks associated with the spinal surgery often required to make the spine stable again.
Biodegradable Polymer Grafts
The new technique involves the use of small grafts designed to be surgically inserted into the area of the spine where a fracture is located. Fluids within the body will cause the graft to expand in its location to fill the damaged area.
Improving Spinal Stability
There’s potential to use these grafts to address a number of conditions that weaken the spine. However, researchers believe the technology will be especially beneficial for patients with spinal tumors. In many cases, discs and supporting structures need to be removed in order to access and remove the tumor, leaving the patient with an unstable spine.
Treating Cancerous Spinal Tumors
The only time a spinal tumor absolutely must be removed is when it’s cancerous or pressing on adjacent nerves to the point where it’s causing debilitating pain. Researchers hope that the new technique can eventually become a less expensive and less invasive treatment option for patients beyond what’s already available.
At present, patients with a tumor that needs to be removed from the back area have two options: a standard open type of surgery that comes with a certain degree of risk and a less-invasive procedure involving smaller incisions and the insertion of titanium rods to stabilize the spine. The new procedure could be used to treat both intramedullary tumors that begin within the spinal cord itself and extramedullary tumors that develop around the backbone and its supporting structures.
Scientists believe that they have developed a type of graft that will expand slowly enough to allow a surgeon to safely insert it in a patient, yet quickly enough to restore spinal stability shortly after being put into place. Researchers plan to expand testing in hopes of fine-tuning the technique for use in patients with spinal tumors that need to be removed.
Learn more about surgical options for back pain relief, including minimally invasive spinal surgery and motion-preserving treatments, from the experienced medical staff at The Spine Institute. Give us a call at (310) 828-7757 and schedule an in-person consultation.