Diagnosing a spinal cord tumor usually begins with a medical history review and exam by a brain and spinal disorder specialist (neurologist). Mayo Clinic offers rapid, coordinated diagnostic testing and assessments by a team of skilled experts. Neurologists and neurosurgeons work with highly experienced nerve tissue analysts (neuropathologists) to identify spinal cord tumors. You also have access to the latest technology to aid in diagnosis, including high-strength scans that identify smaller tumors missed on low-power scanners.
Mayo Clinic has an international reputation for high-quality imaging and rapid test results. In tests that involve radiation, specialists carefully monitor doses to avoid the risk of radiation overexposure. To diagnose a spinal cord tumor, your doctor may recommend one or more of these scans: magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET) scan, computerized tomography (CT) or a myelogram.
Once a tumor is found, tissue sampling (biopsy) is done, using MRI when needed, to guide in accessing the tumor. Then, a neuropathologist analyzes the tissue to determine the type of tumor and the most appropriate treatment. Mayo Clinic's pathologists are internationally known for their expertise.