Spinal tumors

JWM Van Goethem, L van den Hauwe, O Ozsarlak, AMA De Schepper, PM Parizel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

164 Citations (Scopus)


Spinal tumors are uncommon lesions but may cause significant morbidity in terms of limb dysfunction. In establishing the differential diagnosis for a spinal lesion, location is the most important feature, but the clinical presentation and the patient's age and gender are also important. Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging plays a central role in the imaging of spinal tumors, easily allowing tumors to be classified as extradural. intradural-extramedullary or intramedullary, which is very useful in tumor characterization. In the evaluation of lesions of the osseous spine both computed tomography (CT) and MR are important.

We describe the most common spinal tumors in detail. In general, extradural lesions are the most common with metastasis being the most frequent. Intradural tumors are rare, and the majority is extramedullary, with meningiomas and nerve sheath tumors being the most frequent. Intramedullary tumors are uncommon spinal tumors. Astrocytomas and ependymomas comprise the majority of the intramedullary tumors. The most important tumors are documented with appropriate high quality CT or MR images and the characteristics of these tumors are also summarized in a comprehensive table. Finally we illustrate the use of the new World Health Organization (WHO) classification of neoplasms affecting the central nervous system. (C) 2003 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-176
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Journal of Radiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2004
Externally publishedYes


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