Spinal hemangiomas are benign tumors that are most commonly seen in the mid-back (thoracic) and lower back (lumbar). Hemangiomas most often appear in adults between the ages of 30 and 50. They are very common and occur in approximately 10 percent of the world’s population. Most cases show no symptoms. Symptomatic hemangiomas represent less than one percent of all hemangiomas, and are more common in women than in men. If left untreated, symptomatic hemangiomas can cause serious neurological effects.
At UPMC, we treat hemangiomas with surgical removal (resection) of the tumor or the affected vertebra, and radiation therapy to treat pain. Ethanol injections and laminectomy may also be performed.
If a hemangioma is suspected, the doctor will order an x-ray to check for a specific pattern on the bone, called a trabecular pattern. Trabecular, or cancellous, bone is a lattice-shaped structure within the bone.
A CT scan may also show a polka dot appearance in the bone. If this appears, an MRI will be ordered to show whether the tumor has expanded into the spinal column or spinal canal, or encroached on the spinal cord. MRI can also show the extent of nerve damage in the spine and can assist in planning surgical treatment.
Most hemangiomas are symptom-free, but symptoms may include:
Treatment for hemangiomas depends on the size and location of the tumor. At UPMC, we use a combination of stopping blood flow to the tumor (embolization), surgical removal of the tumor, and radiation therapy.
Radiation therapy is effective in the treatment of pain caused by hemangiomas. Ethanol injections with fluoroscopic guidance have also proven effective in treating pain. Another treatment option is embolization followed by removal of the small bones that make up a vertebra (laminectomy) or removal of the vertebra (vertebrectomy).
How can we help you?
Schedule anappointment >
Ask a question >
Request our expertopinion >
1-877-986-9862(within the U.S.)
Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
| Supplemental content provided by Healthwise, Incorporated. To learn more, visit www.healthwise.org
For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.
UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.
Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.
Pittsburgh, PA, USA | UPMC.com