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Pediatric Spine Tumors

What are pediatric spine tumors?

Spine tumors in children occur within the bones of the spinal column, or outside the spinal cord, producing pain, motor or sensory symptoms, or bowel and bladder malfunction. 

The cause the majority of spine tumors, which are relatively rare among children, is usually unknown. Long-term effects depend upon the presenting signs and symptoms, location and pathology of the tumor, and a number of other factors.

What are the symptoms of pediatric spine tumors and how are they diagnosed?

A child may experience or complain of back and neck pain or experience motor problems, difficulty walking, sensory loss, or bowel and bladder disturbances.

A spine tumor diagnosis is typically confirmed on an MRI scan of the spine. CT scans of the spine can, in some cases, provide important information about the extent of bone involvement.

How are spine tumors in children treated?

Spine tumors typically require surgery both to confirm a pathological diagnosis and to alleviate symptoms. If the spine is unstable, surgical instrumentation to stabilize the spine may be required. Depending upon the pathology of the tumor, additional treatments such as radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy may be required.  

The pediatric neurosurgery team at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital combines resources with the pediatric brain tumor program at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center to evaluate and treat children with spine tumors. Each patient is assessed initially by a hospital-affiliated pediatric neurosurgeon, after which cases are reviewed by a comprehensive, multidisciplinary team of affiliated pediatric neuro-oncologists, radiation oncologists and radiologists.

A variety of clinical trials are available to patients through the association of Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital with The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

What follow-up care is necessary?

Close follow-up is advised. After treatment, a follow-up plan is outlined by each child’s pediatric neurosurgeon.

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