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Resection of a Tumor

Surgery can be beneficial in treating benign and malignant tumors. In cases where a tumor has not responded to non-surgical treatments or is causing compression, vertebral degeneration, destabilization of the spine, or paralysis, surgery may be the best option. Surgery can provide pain relief, restore neurological function and stability, and improve quality of life. Based on the type of tumor and the location, a tumor resection (partial removal) or excision (total removal) is done either from the front (anterior) or back (posterior) of the body.

Learn what to expect from surgery

Most of the time, a tumor is resected using a posterior approach. If the surgeon can use minimally invasive surgery (laparoscopically), then the incision may be made from the front of the body. It depends on the size and location of the tumor and what is best for patient recovery. Once the incision is made and the tumor is visualized, the procedures are similar. Patients who have an anterior surgery typically have a reduced recovery time.

The procedure is performed under general anesthesia, and the patient’s spinal cord function is monitored from prior to anesthesia and throughout surgery. At first, the surgeon removes the lamina from the vertebrae that houses the tumor. The tumor is removed by dissecting it from the nearby tissue, and ensuring that the spinal cord and disc are not damaged.

Most patients will spend a few nights in the hospital and will remain on bed rest to give the wound time to heal. Sometimes, a patient may be admitted to WakeMed’s Rehab Hospital to begin therapy to strengthen and provide for a more complete recovery. Recovery depends on the prognosis and if other procedures were performed during surgery. In a typical case, it takes about three months or more for the patient to recover from surgery.