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...
An osteoblastoma is a benign tumor of any bone. At The Spine Hospital at The Neurological Institute of New York, we specialize in spinal osteoblastomas.
Osteoblastomas arise from osteoblasts, one of the two main cell types present in all bones. Osteoblasts form new bone, while osteoclasts break down existing bone. Osteoblasts and osteoclasts work in concert to repair and remodel bones throughout a person’s lifetime.
In an osteoblastoma, however, the osteoblasts malfunction. They proliferate in an uncontrolled manner and haphazardly produce new bone tissue. The bone tissue produced by an osteoblastoma is abnormal and much weaker than normal bone. Osteoblastomas can grow to be quite large.
About 40% of osteoblastomas occur in the vertebrae, or bones of the spine.
Though benign (noncancerous), spinal osteoblastomas can cause severe symptoms.
|Causes and Risk Factors|
Osteoblastoma is a rare tumor, and its causes are not yet understood. It is more common in males than females, and equally common across races. Most people diagnosed with osteoblastoma are in the second and third decades of life.
|Tests and Diagnosis|
Diagnosing osteoblastoma can be a challenge. Osteoblastomas are very similar to the more aggressive osteosarcoma and the less aggressive osteoid osteoma. Each tumor type follows a different course and is treated differently.
In many cases, the diagnosis of osteoblastoma is suggested by the tumor location, size, and appearance on X-ray. A definitive diagnosis usually requires a biopsy, a procedure in which part of the tumor is removed for study in a laboratory.
CT (computed tomography) scans use a combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce detailed images of bones and soft tissues. CT scans can localize the tumor more precisely than a plain X-ray, which is helpful in surgical planning.
MR (magnetic resonance) scans use magnets, radio waves, and computer technology to produce images of organs and tissues like the brain and spinal cord. These scans can reveal the tumor’s involvement with nearby nerve roots or other soft tissues.
Surgery is the treatment of choice for osteoblastoma. The goal of surgery is complete excision of the tumor. This is a more difficult process for osteoblastomas in the spine than in other locations, as it may not be possible to safely remove the entire tumor. However, the outcome for most patients is very good.
Most osteoblastomas occur in the vertebral arch, at the posterior (rear) of the spine. A laminectomy is performed to remove the tumor. Instrumented spinal fusion may need to be performed in some patients to maintain spinal stability.
|Preparing for Your Appointment|
Drs. Paul C. McCormick, Michael G. Kaiser, Alfred T. Ogden, Christopher E. Mandigo, Patrick C. Reid and Richard C.E. Anderson (Pediatric) are experts in treating osteoblastomas. 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...