Spinal Tumor

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K.C. is a 22-year-old student from Sacramento who developed neck pain and numbness in her hands for 6 weeks. She first thought she might have multiple sclerosis until her Doctor performed a MRI that indicated she had a tumor in the cervical spine (Figure 25). Her local Doctor told her that they could not remove the entire tumor and she would require radiation and chemotherapy. The patient was referred to Dr. McCormack in San Francisco for a second opinion.


Figure 25. MRI of the cervical spine reveals swollen spinal cord with tumor and cyst "x".


Dr. McCormack believed it was possible to remove the entire tumor and scheduled surgery. At surgery the spinal cord was found to be swollen from tumor (Figure 26).  Fortunately, the tumor was an ependymoma and could be completely removed.  To minimize the risk of paralysis, a team of electrophysiologists monitored the spinal cord’s motor and sensory pathways (Figures 27 and 28).  Intra-operative neuromonitoring services are often requested by Dr. McCormack to help insure a beneficial outcome from the planned surgical procedure.   Neuromonitoring techniques provide functional status feedback on the sensory and motor pathways of the spinal cord throughout surgery.

Figure 26. Intraoperative photograph demonstrates swollen spinal cord.

Figure 27. Electrophysiologists Dr. John Gardi and Charlotte Moore.

Figure 28. Computer scan of patient's spine condition during surgery.

After surgery, the patient made a complete recovery and was able to return to school in three months.

Patient Comment

"I was really nervous because my doctors told me the surgery could paralyze me. I had complete trust in Dr. McCormack and the team of Doctors that he works with."