Spinal Tumors


A spinal tumor is a cancerous (malignant) or noncancerous (benign) growth that develops within or near your spinal cord or within the bones of your spine. Although back pain is the most common indication of a spinal tumour, most back pain is associated with stress, strain and aging — not with a tumour.

The spine is made up of bones, soft tissue and ligaments, while the middle of the spine contains the spinal cord with vital nerves and blood vessels. This spinal cord sends and receives messages between the body and the brain. In most areas of your body, noncancerous tumors aren’t particularly worrisome. That’s not necessarily the case with your spinal cord, where a spinal tumor or a growth of any kind can impinge on your nerves, leading to pain, neurological problems and sometimes paralysis.

Tumours can be primary or have spread or metastisized from other parts of the body to the spine.

A spinal tumour can grow on the spinal cord, on the covering of the spinal cord, or on the bones of the spine (vertebrae). Depending where the tumours is located, a spinal tumour, whether cancerous or not, can threaten life and cause permanent disability. Yet, advances in spinal tumour treatment offer more options than ever before.

Symptoms of a spinal tumour may differ depending on the location and the rate of growth of the tumour. The following may be signs of a spinal tumour:

  • Back pain
  • Pain that radiates from the back to other parts of the body
  • Lack of sensitivity to pain, heat and cold
  • Loss of bladder or bowel functioning
  • Difficulty walking
  • Loss of sensation or muscle strength in the limbs


After a thorough medical exam, Dr Lamprecht will perform an MRI to better locate the spinal tumour and see what nerves the tumour may be affecting. This may help decipher whether or not surgical removal of the tumour will be possible.  A biopsy may also be needed to see if the tumour is malignant or benign. Even if it proves to be non-cancerous, a spinal tumour may still impinge on the nerves and cause complications.


Surgery is often the first step in treating tumors that can be removed, although there are risks of nerve damage in some cases.

Newer techniques and instruments allow neurosurgeons to reach tumors that were once inaccessible. Depending on the size and location of the tumour, primary tumours can be removed to cure spinal cancer. For tumours that have spread from other cancer-ridden areas, surgery may be done for palliative reasons to reduce the painful symptoms the tumour is causing, or to preserve motor and neurological functioning.

These days, surgical resection of tumours are made easier with technological advances. The high-powered microscopes used in microsurgery make it easier to distinguish tumours from healthy tissue. Doctors also can test different nerves during surgery with electrodes, thus minimizing nerve damage. Surgery may be done to debulk (make a tumour smaller) or remove part of or the whole tumour. Depending how accessible the tumour is, one of these surgeries may be done.

Because spinal tumours cause pressure on the spinal cord and nerves, any of these surgeries may aid in relieving pressure (decompression) and pain caused by the spinal tumour, regardless of how much of the tumour can be removed.

Please visit for more information on rehabilitative therapy.

Spinal Conditions - Neurosurgeon | Cape Town, South Africa

Lumbar Stenosis

Lumbar stenosis is the narrowing of the spaces in the spine, resulting in compression of the nerve roots or spinal cord by bony spurs or soft tissues, such as disks, in the spinal canal. This occurs most often in the lumbar spine (in the lower back) but also occurs in the cervical spine (in the neck) and less often in the thoracic spine (in the upper back).

Decompression: During decompression, the surgery removes part of the lamina, and then undercuts the facet joints to give the existing nerve root more space.

Please visit for more information on rehabilitative therapy.

Spinal Conditions - Neurosurgeon | Cape Town, South Africa

Disk Herniation or sequestration

Definition :
A condition that results in the abnormal protrusion (bulging), herniation or prolapse of a vertebral disk from its normal position in the vertebral column. The displaced disk may exert force on a nearby nerve root causing the typical neurologic symptoms of radiating pain (to an extremity), numbness, tingling and weakness. Recurrent episodes of severe back pain are common.

Procedures and solutions:
Treatment includes non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids and rest. More advanced cases may require surgical intervention (for example laminectomy, micro-disk surgery).

Discectomy: A discectomy is a surgery done to remove a herniated disk from the spinal canal. When a disk herniation occurs, a fragment of the normal spinal disk is dislodged. This fragment may press against the spinal cord or the nerves that surround the spinal cord

Please visit for information on rehabilitative therapy.