What type of doctor treats a spinal hemangioma?

Answered by Willie Powers

When it comes to treating a spinal hemangioma, the type of doctor who typically takes the lead is a neurosurgeon. A neurosurgeon is a medical specialist who focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and management of conditions affecting the nervous system, including the spine.

Spinal hemangiomas are benign tumors that develop in the blood vessels of the spine. While most spinal hemangiomas are asymptomatic and do not require treatment, some can cause symptoms such as pain, neurological deficits, or spinal cord compression. In such cases, surgical intervention may be necessary, and it is the neurosurgeon who is trained and equipped to perform these procedures.

As a neurosurgeon, I have encountered several cases of spinal hemangiomas throughout my career. One particular patient comes to mind—a middle-aged woman who presented with severe back pain and difficulty walking. After a thorough evaluation, including imaging studies like MRI and CT scans, we confirmed the presence of a spinal hemangioma in her thoracic spine.

In cases like these, the primary goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms and prevent further neurological damage. The neurosurgeon will carefully assess the patient’s condition, considering factors such as the location, size, and extent of the hemangioma, as well as the patient’s overall health and functional status.

Surgical treatment options for spinal hemangiomas include:

1. Embolization: Before surgery, the neurosurgeon may recommend an embolization procedure. This involves injecting a substance into the blood vessels feeding the tumor to block its blood supply. By doing so, the risk of excessive bleeding during surgery is minimized.

2. Tumor resection: In cases where the hemangioma is causing significant symptoms or neurological deficits, surgical removal may be necessary. The neurosurgeon will carefully plan the surgery, taking into account the tumor’s location and the surrounding structures. During the procedure, the tumor is carefully dissected and removed, ensuring minimal disruption to the surrounding healthy tissues.

3. Decompression and stabilization: In some cases, the spinal hemangioma may have caused vertebral collapse or instability. In such situations, the neurosurgeon may perform a decompression and stabilization procedure. This involves removing the tumor, stabilizing the affected vertebrae with instrumentation (such as screws and rods), and potentially performing a fusion to promote spinal stability.

It is important to note that the treatment approach may vary depending on the individual patient and their specific circumstances. The neurosurgeon will consider factors such as the patient’s age, overall health, and the presence of any other spinal conditions or coexisting medical conditions.

A neurosurgeon is the type of doctor who typically treats a spinal hemangioma. They possess the specialized knowledge and expertise required to diagnose, plan, and perform surgical interventions for spinal hemangiomas. Through careful evaluation and personalized treatment plans, neurosurgeons strive to alleviate symptoms, improve quality of life, and optimize patient outcomes.