What is a spinal meningioma?

Meningiomas are benign tumors originating from the meninges. The meninges are like a protective cover around our spinal cord and brain. The spinal meningioma is a benign tumor located within the spinal canal. This tumor develops from the cells of the meninges (a brain layer). Malignant growth is extremely rare. A Meningioma as such is not a life-threatening disease, but it should not be underestimated. On the other hand, a benign tumor grows slowly and due to the gradual growth, he can remain unrecognized for a long time and thus lead to severe disabilities and life-threatening situations. It can compress the spinal cord and the nerve root in the course of growth and thus impair their function. It can spread throughout the spinal cavity (the spinal canal).

Meningiomas are classified in:

  • Slow-growing (benign) meningiomas (WHO grade I)
  • Atypical meningiomas prone to regrowth (WHO grade II)
  • Fast-growing anaplastic meningiomas (WHO grade III)

How many people are affected by a meningioma?

For example in Germany with a population of nearly 80 Million people, about 50,000 people are affected by meningiomas each year. It is possible that significantly more meningiomas are growing, but they cannot be counted by statisticians or scientists because they have never been discovered. On average, more women than men are affected (2 out of 3). Adults are most likely to contract it, usually around the age of 45, but they are very rare in children and adolescents (2%). Most of the 50,000 meningiomas grow in the brain, and it is estimated that 10% (or 5,000) develop in the spinal canal. Meningiomas in the spine affect men and women equally.

These are the causes of meningiomas

Meningiomas do not arise from the brain substance but develop from the cells of the meninges. Meningiomas are a cellular proliferation of uncontrolled growth and size of the meninges cells.

Pay attention to these symptoms

The symptoms depend very much on the exact location of the tumor. It can take years for the meningioma to show symptoms at all. That's because this tumor grows very slowly and symptoms appear once the tumor reaches adjacent structures such as nerves. Most patients suffer from local pain in the area of ​​the tumor. If the meningioma is in the cervical spine, pain can also radiate into the arms, if it is in the thoracic spine, then it can radiate around the chest and if it is in the lumbar spine it usually radiates into the legs (simulating sciatica complaints). Progressive compressions can lead to numbness, gait disorders, bladder dysfunction and in the worst case, in addition to neurological deficits, it can cause paraplegia.

Diagnosis of meningeoma

In any case, a specialist (neurosurgeon, neurologist and/or orthopedist) is needed to make an accurate diagnosis. Before your doctor prescribes you imaging procedures, he will conduct the so-called anamnesis interview with you. He will ask you some questions about your complaints, their origins and position. Surely he also asks about possible underlying diseases. Thereafter, he chooses computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to confirm or exclude the meningioma in the spinal canal. Thanks to modern cutting procedures, a binding classification of the tumor is possible. A contrast agent, which is injected into the patient's vein, literally makes the tumor glow, making it clearly visible. Depending on the size, location and the growth rate of the meningioma it will removed or simply observed.

This is how the Avicenna Clinic treats meningiomas

The choice of the therapy depends on the size and localization of the meningioma, but also on the patient's complaints. In the case of surgery, we will perform a microsurgical one, which will allow us to remove the meningioma completely. After removal of the tumor, the symptoms disappear usually immediately. In exceptional cases (if the tumor could not be completely removed), radiation therapy may follow. If after the operation you feel sensitive dysfunction, they will disappear on their own within one year. Chemotherapy is only an option if the actual benign meningioma is about to degenerate – which means that the cells become malignant. The danger exists only in 1.7% of the cases.

Prognosis - control examinations are recommended

In benign meningiomas, surgery is usually the cure. This tumor does not form metastases. Nonetheless, follow-up examinations (MRI, CT) are recommended every six to twelve months and longer. In case of relapse, it will be detected early and can be treated easily (usually operated once again).

Dr. med. Munther Sabarini

Author
Dr. med. Munther Sabarini
Specialist in Neurosurgery

Hans-Heinrich Reichelt

Co-author
Hans-Heinrich Reichelt
Chief Editor of Medizin für Menschen

The Avicenna Clinic in Berlin is always willing to help you

Since the year 2001, the Avicenna Clinic is based in Berlin. Our doctors have at least 25 years of international experience in their respective fields (neurosurgery, spinal surgery, anesthesia, and orthopedics).

If you have severe back pain, a herniated disc or a suspected herniation, please contact us using the following information:

Avicenna Clinic
Paulsborner Str. 2
10709 Berlin

Telephone: +49 30 236 08 30
Fax: +49 30 236 08 33 11
E-Mail: info@avicenna-klinik.de

You can call anytime, write an e-mail or fill out a callback form. Each patient then gets an appointment with a doctor of our clinic, who is a spine specialist (neurosurgeon). Based on MRI images (brought or made in our clinic) and on an in-depth examination, the doctor will discuss with you all the different therapy options or possibly surgery. You can also use our specialists only to obtain a (second) opinion.

If you decide to undertake your therapy and/or surgery in Berlin, we would want to make your stay as pleasant as possible. In our clinic, you are at the center of our attention! You can expect state-of-the-art equipment in all areas - from the operating room to the patient bedroom.

The latest, gentle, minimally invasive treatment procedures are the focus of our clinic. Together we try to find a suitable treatment for your complaints. The actual therapy takes place only after a detailed discussion with the patient, examinations and the diagnostics.

For us, as important as medical care, it is the commitment we take to guarantee our patients a high level of personal care that can, in turn, ensure them a comfortable stay.

During the period of inpatient stay our team of nurses will take care of you 24 hours a day. They also offer services in several foreign languages, including English, Russian, Polish, Turkish, Spanish, Italian, Arabic, Bulgarian and French. We care not only about your safety but also your needs, respecting traditions and religions.

Our team is made up of a group of highly qualified specialists who work together to guarantee you a quick recovery.