What is Tumor Stabilization?
Tumor stabilization is a surgical procedure performed to strengthen and support your spine when it is weakened or in danger of breaking due to a tumor growth. It is typically carried out after a surgery called tumor decompression, which involves the removal or shrinking of the tumor.
A weakened spine due to tumor growth tends to heal poorly, resulting in:
- Collapse or fracture of the spinal bones
- Compression of the spinal cord
Tumor stabilization promotes faster and improved healing of spinal bones and relieves pressure in your spine.
Indications for the Procedure
Persistent back or neck pain is the major indication for tumor stabilization surgery.
Other possible signs include:
- Weakness or tingling in your legs
- Balance problems, difficulty walking
- Problems controlling bowel movements
- Bladder dysfunction
Prior to the surgery, your surgeon will instruct you to:
- Stop non-essential medications or herbal remedies
- Reduce or adjust the use of essential medications
- Stop smoking (if applicable)
- Avoid food or drink 6 hours before the procedure
Tumor stabilization is performed under general anesthesia. An instrument called a fluoroscope is used, which involves viewing live X-ray images throughout the procedure.
Tumor stabilization typically uses a technique called spinal instrumentation, which involves the surgical implant of a bone graft from your body (autograft) or a donor (allograft), along with hardware supports such as plates, screws and other devices.
When the new bone growth begins and joins with the vertebrae, the fusion of spinal bones takes place as it heals. This prevents the collapse of spinal bones and ensures the stability of your spine.
In cases where the spinal bones have already collapsed and begun compressing the spinal cord, your doctor will remove pieces of bone tissue in order to release the spinal cord, replacing them with a support structure called a cage.
Potential risks associated with tumor stabilization include:
- Spinal injury or instability
- Bleeding or infection
- Nerve or tissue damage
- Paralysis in extreme cases
As you recover, your doctor will recommend the following:
- Strictly follow the prescribed rehabilitation procedures
- Avoid strenuous exertion, such as heavy lifting, for a few weeks
Tumor stabilization helps achieve the following:
- Reduced pain and a stable spine
- Improved spine function and quality of life