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What are spine tumors?

A spinal tumor is an abnormal growth that can appear in the nerves, bones, and other tissue that comprise the spinal cord and spinal column. Spinal tumors can be either benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

Primary spinal tumors originate within the spine and are relatively rare, whereas secondary or metastatic spinal tumors are those that have spread to the spine from other areas of the body.

According to Dr. Vasudevan, a brain and spine surgeon in St. Louis, secondary spinal tumors or metastatic spinal tumors are usually a sign of a malignant tumor since they have metastasized. Common cancers that spread to the spine include breast, lung, and prostate cancer.

What are the different types of spine tumors?

There are many different types of spinal tumors. Symptoms vary depending on the specific type and location of the tumor in question.

Spine tumors are typically classified according to their position relative to the spinal cord:

  • Intradural-extramedullary tumors: grow outside of the spinal cord, inside the dura which covers the spinal cord. Meningiomas , schwannomas, and ependymomas are seen most frequently.

  • Intramedullary tumors: grow inside the spinal cord, derived from glial or ependymal cells. Astrocytomas and ependymomas are the most common types.

  • Extradural or epidural tumors: grow inside the spinal column and can push on the spinal cord causing symptoms. Most spinal tumors are extradural tumors, and commonly metastases, meningiomas, or schwannomas.

What are the signs and symptoms of spine tumors?

Spinal tumor symptoms can vary depending on their location, type, and growth rate. By far, the most common symptom of a spinal tumor is neck or back pain in the tumor's location. Additional symptoms include:

  • Paralysis

  • Difficulty walking

  • Scoliosis and other spinal deformities

  • Changes in normal bladder and bowel habits

  • Weakness, tingling, or numbness in the arms or legs

At risk patients for spinal tumors may include people with certain genetic predispositions or immune disorders like neurofibromatosis 2.

How does our practice treat spine tumors?

We individualize treatment for our spine tumor patients in St. Louis depending on symptoms, the tumor location, and other factors. Through our relationship with the Department of Neurosurgery at Washington University in St. Louis, experts from different specialties are readily available to ensure that patients receive access to the best possible spine tumor care available today.

Both surgical and non-surgical techniques are common treatment options, at our office we offer our patients the most advanced treatments available:

  • Laminectomy: the lamina (back part of a vertebra) is either partially or fully removed in an effort to ease pressure, widen the spinal canal, and remove the tumor.

  • Spinal fusion: rods, screws, and other hardware are used to connect and stabilize vertebrae after tumor removal.

  • Additional minimally invasive surgical methods.

Why our practice?

Dr. Vasudevan’s experienced and compassionate approach as a brain and spine surgeon in St. Louis, coupled with a special connection to multidisciplinary experts, can truly make a difference in the care of patients with spinal tumors. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with or shown symptoms of a spinal tumor, Dr. Vasudevan can help. Our primary objective is to save and maintain your quality of life. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

Spine Tumors Neurosurgeon in St. Louis - Kumar Vasudevan, MD

Spine Tumors


Providing surgical and non-surgical care for patients with spinal tumors and metastases.


​We are here to help you make sense of your options and get you the care that you need.

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