In his latest installment to the Total Spine series of instructional videos, Dr. Paul McCormick describes retropleural thoracotomy, a surgical technique used to treat complex spinal conditions of the thoracic and lumbar spine. “Retropleural thoracotomy is an important...
Dumbbell = having the shape of a dumbbell (narrower in the middle than on each end)
A dumbbell tumor is any tumor that is constricted in the middle, giving it the shape of an hourglass or dumbbell.
In the spine, dumbbell tumors consist of one part of the tumor inside the spinal canal and another outside the spinal canal. The narrow section connecting these two parts passes through an opening in the spinal column called the neural foramen.
Many kinds of tumors can be dumbbell-shaped. The most common ones are the nerve sheath tumors, schwannomas and neurofibromas. These tumors grow in the insulating membranes, or sheaths, around the spinal nerves. The nerves pass through the neural foramen, and the tumors grow along the same course. Meningiomas, sarcomas, and lymphomas can also have a dumbbell shape.
Most dumbbell tumors are benign, but not all. Treatment depends on the type of tumor. Nearly all dumbbell tumors can be safely removed with surgery.
When one section of a growing dumbbell tumor compresses the spinal cord or a nerve, the compression can cause spinal cord or nerve damage.
Symptoms can include pain, numbness, weakness, “pins and needles,” clumsiness, difficulty walking, or incontinence. Exact symptoms depend on the size and location of the tumor.
|Causes and Risk Factors|
The causes and risk factors depend on the type of tumor.
Nerve sheath tumors and meningiomas are sometimes caused by a set of inherited conditions known as neurofibromatoses. Sometimes these tumors occur for no known reason; these are called sporadic cases.
|Tests and Diagnosis|
Dumbbell-shaped tumors are commonly diagnosed using imaging studies like CT (computed tomography–a CAT scan) or MR (magnetic resonance). CT uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce detailed images of bones and soft tissues; MR scans use magnets, radio waves, and computer technology to produce images of organs like the brain and spinal cord.
These studies give the best information about soft tissue tumors.
Microsurgery is the treatment of choice for nearly all dumbbell tumors.
Neurosurgeons perform microsurgery using an operating microscope and fine surgical instruments. Depending on the size and location of the tumor, the neurosurgeon will choose from a variety of microsurgical techniques and approaches. Most dumbbell tumors can be safely removed using standard microsurgical techniques.
The surgeon may need to remove some bone to access the tumor, in a procedure called a laminectomy. To maintain spinal stability, a spinal fusion may then need to be performed. To watch a video of this procedure, click below.
|Preparing for Your Appointment|
Drs. Paul C. McCormick, Michael G. Kaiser, Peter D. Angevine, Alfred T. Ogden, Christopher E. Mandigo, Patrick C. Reid, Richard C.E. Anderson (Pediatric) and Neil A. Feldstein (Pediatric) experts in treating dumbbell tumors. They can also offer you a second opinion.
Helpful Surgery Overviews
Dr. McCormick will choose the treatment method specific to each patient and situation. Some of the condition’s treatment options may be listed below.
As a public service to its readers, New York Magazine annually publishes its roster of Best Doctors, arranged by specialty, from communities in the New York City metropolitan area. For the 16th year in a row, Dr. Paul C. McCormick has made this prestigious list in the...
Dr. Paul McCormick Once Again Invited to Speak Before International Gathering of Spinal Neurosurgeons
Lifelong learning is an essential aspect of spinal neurosurgery. Indeed, the top spinal neurosurgeons keep avidly up to date with the frontiers of their field, while also achieving an unprecedented depth of knowledge in their field. Dr. Paul McCormick is exactly that...