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Surgical Planning, Next-Generation Technology Enable Treatment of Rare Spinal Tumor

By Admin | January 14, 2021

When a patient with intensifying neuromuscular symptoms was diagnosed with an aggressive malignant tumor in a highly vascularized location, a multidisciplinary surgical team mobilized to plan a swift intervention and execute a high-risk surgery. With skilled use of advanced imaging and intraoperative technologies to support planning, the team carried out a complex strategy to safely remove the tumor and restore the patient’s function.

A Common Spinal Tumor in an Uncommon Location

With progressively worsening left-side neck pain radiating into his shoulder and upper arm for 6 months, the 72-year-old patient also began to experience progressive muscle weakness that limited his mobility. His physician suspected deltoid palsy and recommended physical therapy. When that failed to elicit improvement, MRI imaging was ordered, and this revealed a large spinal mass surrounding the patient’s left vertebral artery. At that point, the patient was referred to Anthony K. Frempong-Boadu, MD, associate professor in the Departments of Neurosurgery and Orthopedic Surgery and co-director of the Spine Center.

A biopsy revealed a chordoma—a locally aggressive primary malignant tumor with a high recurrence rate. This tumor is commonly found in the clivus and sacrum; its presentation above the sacrum in the C4 and C5 vertebral bodies, where spine compression was causing the patient’s deltoid palsy, was unusual. “These lesions look benign but behave malignantly,” notes Dr. Frempong-Boadu. “We aim to achieve the most complete resection possible to prevent recurrence, but this patient’s large tumor in the thick of the major blood vessels that feed critical brain areas made surgical intervention extremely risky and technically challenging.”

However, the tumor’s location and the patient’s progressive symptoms indicated action. As the tumor grew, it would threaten the vertebral and carotid arteries, potentially causing a catastrophic stroke or death. With the risks of both surgery and...(More)

For more information please read, Surgical Planning, Next-Generation Technology Enable Treatment of Rare Spinal Tumor, by NYU Langone Health

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