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Back Surgeries for Tumors and Infections

Topic Overview

You might have surgery if your back problem is caused by a tumor or infection.

Removal of spinal tumors

Spinal tumors can be cancerous (malignant) or not (benign). During surgery, the doctor removes the tumor and any bone that it has damaged.

If surgery or disease has weakened part of the spine, the doctor can make it more stable using metal implants, bone grafts, or bone cement.

Certain types of tumors grow on the spinal cord or nerve roots. In some cases, surgery to remove the tumor could cause more harm to the spinal cord than not removing the tumor. Talk to your doctor to make sure you understand the risks involved. Get advice from a surgeon who is an expert in treating spinal cord tumors.

Debridement of the spine

This surgery removes bone and other infected or abnormal tissue. It's usually done to treat an infection or an injury.

The doctor removes infected and damaged or dead bone. The area is then cleaned with a sterile solution that contains antibiotics. If the doctor removes a lot of bone or entire vertebrae, he or she may use spinal fusion (arthrodesis) to make the spine stable.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Robert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics
Last Revised December 14, 2011

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