OBJECTIVE: Currently, the standard practice to treat intradural spinal tumours involves microsurgical resection of the lesions. It is essential to be able to locate the lesion precisely to reduce the risk of neurological morbidity. The purpose of this study was to evaluate intraoperative ultrasonography (IOUS) in visualizing intradural spinal tumours, and assess its potential to improve surgical precision and minimize surgical trauma.
METHODS: Between January 2006 and July 2007, 30 patients with suspected intradural spinal tumours underwent surgery with the aid of IOUS. There were 13 patients with intramedullary tumours (ependymoma=2, astrocytoma=5, hemangioblastoma=2 and metastasis=4); and 14 patients with extramedullary tumours (meningioma=6, neurinoma=6, filum terminale ependymoma=1 and lipoma=1). In 3 patients histopathology did not reveal any neoplasm despite an MRI suggesting tumour. Their sonographic features are analyzed and the advantages of IOUS are discussed.
RESULTS: The shape and expansion of intradural tumours could be visualized on IOUS. The sonographic visualization allowed adapting the approach to an appropriate location and size before dura opening. Certain sonographic features can be used for a differential diagnosis of different intradural tumours. In addition, IOUS can inform neurosurgeons about the location of the neoplastic tissue, its relation to the spinal cord and the size of residual tumour following excision.
CONCLUSIONS: IOUS is a sensitive intraoperative tool. When appropriately applied to assist surgical procedures, it offers additional intraoperative information that helps to improve surgical precision and therefore might reduce the procedure related morbidity.