Doctors at the Fortis Hospital in Shalimar Bagh here have successfully removed a 37.4 centimetre spinal tumour, the world’s largest such tumour, from a 22-year-old woman. The largest spinal ependymoma tumour recorded, till date, was measured at 28 cm.

The patient approached the Fortis doctors after unsuccessful treatment with medicines and physiotherapy for persistent back pain for over an year. She also developed weakness in both legs, making it difficult for her to walk.

An MRI scan revealed a large spinal tumour, which was extending across 14 vertebral columns, from the centre of the patient’s back to the end of her lower back, the doctors said.

In the complex surgery lasting over 12 hours, the team of doctors led by Sonal Gupta, Director of neuro and spine Surgery department, opened the spine (open door laminoplasty) through drilling and then fixed it back with plates.

“It was a very high-risk case as it involved many segments. The surgery had to be done on the spinal cord which comprises many nerves, so there was a chance for the patient to be bed-ridden for the rest of her life. Another challenge was that the location was within the spinal canal. We had to remove the bone at 14 levels, which could have caused the patient to develop instability of the spine,” Gupta said.

“The bone pieces were fixed back with plates instead of nibbling of the bone. Had we done a fixation of 14 levels of spine, she would have developed a rigid back, making it difficult for her to bend forward for the rest of her life,” Gupta noted.

The patient is currently walking with support and is under a vigorous neuro-rehabilitation programme. She will require regular neuro rehabilitation and follow-up imaging to keep an eye on recurrence of the tumour, Gupta said.