A doctor will begin with a thorough history of the patient and physical
exam. If a doctor believes a spinal tumor may be present, the following
tests may be ordered:
X-ray: an x-ray can show which area of the spine has been affected
Computerized tomography (CT) is a noninvasive procedure that uses x-rays to produce a three-dimensional
image of the spine. A CT shows more detail than an X-ray, and can identify
the bones in greater detail, and show the nerves, spinal cord, and any
possible damage to them.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): An MRI uses magnetic fields and radio-frequency waves to create an image
of the spine, and can reveal fine details of the spine, including tumors,
nerves, and other details. An MRI scan can show details in the spine that
can’t normally be seen on an x-ray. Sometimes a contrast agent is
injected into a vein in the hand or arm during the test, which highlights
certain tissues and structures to make details even clearer.
Many schwannomas can be removed with minimally invasive surgically. However,
this is dependent upon the age, overall physical health of the patient,
and the size and location of the tumor. In the vast majority of spinal
schwannomas, the tumors can be entirely removed without causing neurological problems.
Some treatment options include:
Surgery: Removal of the schwannoma via surgery may be the best option to not only
remove the growth but also relieve pressure on the spine and nerves that
it is causing. Surgery often occurs in conjunction with radiation therapy. (See
Surgery for Spinal Schwannomas.)
Monitoring: Sometimes the schwannoma has no symptoms, and is discovered when being
seen for another condition. If the tumor has been deemed non-cancerous,
is not growing, or posing any threat to surrounding nerves or tissue,
or if the patient is older and surgery is a risk, then monitoring may
be the treatment of choice.
Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS):
Neurological surgeons can use stereotactic radiosurgery (highly targeted
radiation beams from multiple angles) to treat schwannomas in cases where
surgery or complete surgical resection is not an option.