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Spinal Tumor

Diagnosing & treating Spinal tumor

A spinal tumor is an abnormal growth within the spinal canal or the vertebrae. These abnormal tissues grow and multiply uncontrollably without the mechanisms that control normal cellular growth. Spinal tumors can be either benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous), and they may occur primarily in the spinal cord or spread to the spine from other parts of the body. If left undiagnosed and untreated, spinal tumors can be life-threatening or may cause permanent disability. As such, if you notice potential signs or symptoms of spinal tumors, you must consult Dr. Brian McHugh immediately.

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  • Intradural-Extramedullary: The spinal tumor is located within the dura, i.e., the thin covering of the spinal cord, but outside the spinal cord itself.
  • Intramedullary: The spinal tumor is located inside the spinal cord, originating from the spinal cord cells, such as gliomas, astrocytomas, and ependymomas.
  • Extradural: The spinal tumor is outside the thin covering of the spinal cord, often derived from the nerve roots cells.


Spinal tumors can lead to various signs and symptoms, depending on the type of tumor and its location within the spinal canal. They can affect your nerve roots, spinal cord, blood vessels, and other components in your spine. The following are the signs and symptoms to look out for:

  • Back pain in the middle or lower back.
  • The pain increases during certain activities or while lying down.
  • The pain spreads down the back, hips, and legs.
  • Loss of sensation in your back or legs.
  • Mild to severe muscle weakness.
  • Stiff neck and back.
  • Numbness and tingling sensations.
  • Difficulty walking.
  • Loss of bladder or bowel controls.
  • Paralysis caused by nerve compression in different parts of the body.
  • Spinal deformities or scoliosis.

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“The staff was very helpful & friendly. Dr. McHugh listened to what I had to say about my respective issues. His office then called - made my appointments- it could not have gone any smoother than it did.”

Potential Causes

There’s no clear consensus on the root cause of spinal tumors. Experts suggest that spinal tumors may be caused by defective genes. However, it’s not certain whether they’re caused by inherited bad genes or due to defective genes developed over time due to external factors, like exposure to specific chemicals. In some cases, spinal tumors may be linked to underlying genetic diseases, such as neurofibromatosis 2 and a multi-system disorder called Von Hippel-Lindau disease.


The signs and symptoms of spinal tumors can often be misattributed to other spinal conditions, making it an extremely under-diagnosed and dangerous problem. However, Dr. McHugh leverages his immense knowledge and experience to identify the warning signs of spinal tumors at the earliest stage possible. After discussing your medical history, family history, and symptoms, he administers a series of diagnostic tests, including spinal MRIs, CT scans, and spinal biopsy.


Dr. McHugh primarily aims to eliminate the spinal tumor completely, restoring normal functionality as soon as possible. Spinal tumors should ideally be extracted at an early stage because removing enlarged tumors may risk permanently damaging the surrounding nerves and spinal cord. That’s why it’s crucial to consult Dr. McHugh the moment you identify the signs of spinal tumors, ensuring proactive treatment at an early stage. Spinal tumor treatment options usually include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and spinal surgery. Dr. McHugh curates the treatment according to your specific needs and concerns.

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