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Brain and Spine Hemangiomas

Hemangiomas are abnormal masses, or tumors, that develop when blood vessels grow out of control. While rarely cancerous, brain and spine hemangiomas can sometimes bleed into surrounding tissue or grow big enough to weaken spinal bones.

Brain and spine hemangioma symptoms

When symptoms develop, they vary depending on the location of the tumor and may include the following:

  • Poor coordination
  • Problems with balance
  • Headaches
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea

Anyone who has sudden and severe symptoms should go to the emergency department. If your symptoms are troubling but not severe, talk to your primary care physician.

How can I get help for brain and spine hemangiomas?

Advanced imaging tests, including CT scans and cerebral angiograms, are used to diagnose hemangiomas.

Depending on where your tumor is located, you will be referred to experienced brain tumor or spine tumor specialists at Rush, who can help explain the results to you.

Care for brain and spine hemangiomas at Rush

Rush's brain tumor or spine tumor specialists will explain the various approaches used to treat hemangiomas. They will recommend the best options for you based on a variety of factors, including the type, size and location of the tumor. Your treatment may involve one or more of the following:

  • Watchful waiting: In some cases, it may be safe to wait to treat a hemangioma that is not causing any serious symptoms. This approach might be considered when the tumor is benign, or won’t spread to healthy tissue.
  • Surgery: Neurological and orthopedic spine surgeons use the most advanced surgical methods. When possible, they may use minimally invasive approaches to safely remove hemangiomas.
  • Embolization: In some cases, the blood supply to hemangiomas can be blocked, killing them off. Specially trained neuro-endovascular physicians perform these procedures. They inject a blocking agent, such as ethanol or polyvinyl alcohol, into a blood vessel. These agents cut off the blood supply to tumors without harming healthy tissue.
  • Radiation therapy: If the entire tumor cannot be surgically removed, radiation therapy can attack what remains. One approach used at Rush for small, well-defined tumors is stereotactic radiosurgery, a nonsurgical radiation therapy. The TrueBeam STx system delivers a single high dose of radiation to the tumor, which cuts treatment time and minimizes damage to healthy surrounding tissue.

Why choose Rush for brain and spine hemangioma care?

  • Cutting-edge treatments: Because many physicians at Rush are also researchers, they are involved in clinical trials of new brain and spine tumor treatments. They are also on top of the latest discoveries. 
  • Experience and expertise: Orthopedic surgeons, neurosurgeons and neuro-endovascular specialists at Rush regularly perform intricate procedures on large numbers of patients, many with complex diseases and conditions. Therefore, they are equipped to take on even the most complicated brain and spine cases.
  • Team approach: Specialists at Rush work collaboratively to treat brain and spine tumors, pooling their expertise to ensure patients receive optimal, individualized treatment. 
  • Nationally recognized programs: Rush's orthopedics, neurosurgery and cancer programs are consistently ranked among the best in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.

Departments and programs that treat this condition