Hemangioma sounds like something very scary but in fact it is just a benign tumor that develops from blood vessels. You will often see them on a newborn’s skin as a red birthmark that fades over time. However these benign tumors can form on your internal organs as will including your spine. So what is a hemangioma on the spine and are they dangerous?
Spinal hemangiomas are fairly common with roughly 10% of the population having them, they are the most common of all spinal tumors. They will most likely develop in the lower spine or upper to mid spine. It is extremely rare to get a hemangioma in the bones of your neck. Most people are completely unaware that they have one and often they are discovered during some other procedure. The only time that they require any treatment is if they are causing you pain or discomfort.
Symptoms of Spinal Hemangioma
Most of these tumors cause absolutely no symptoms at all but on the rare occasion that you do have symptoms the most common is pain. There are millions of nerves in your spine and if the tumor grows it can put pressure on the nerves nearby. This pain can travel to the arms and legs, you can suffer from weakness or numbness in your limbs. If your vertebrae becomes weakened by the hemangioma you can end up with a compression fracture. In the worst case scenario you can have bleeding that compresses the nerves around the spinal cord. Here is a closer look at how neurosurgeons diagnose spinal tumors.
Causes and Diagnoses of Hemangiomas
Most of the time a hemangioma is only diagnosed in middle age and they happen to both men and women, however women have symptoms more often. To diagnose a hemangioma it is going to take a MRI or a CT scan to find them. For hemangiomas that will require surgery you may need an angiogram so that your surgeon knows exactly where the blood vessels lie.
Treating a Hemangioma
Treatment can vary but it will depend on things like your health, where exactly the tumor is located and the symptoms you are suffering from. It is very rare that a spinal hemangioma even needs treatment at all but in those rare cases treatment can include embolization, radiation therapy and kyphoplasty. Your neurosurgeon will discuss your options with you along with the best course of treatment.