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What to Expect

The typical flow of events for a patient will be:

  1. Upon referral to our center (which can be initiated by your doctor or by yourself), we will determine if you should see one of our neurosurgeons or one of our neuro-oncologists.
  2. Typically, you can be seen within 1 to 3 business days, based on the urgency and your level of concern. On rare occasions, the appointment may not be possible for 1 to 2 weeks. 
  3. After seeing our physician and after reviewing your radiologic scans (MRI, CT), a treatment plan will be discussed with you. Sometimes, additional studies will be needed.
  4. If the treatment plan involves neurosurgery, you will be informed of the benefits versus the risks and a date for surgery will be scheduled. Typically, surgeries will be within 7 to 14 days, based on level of urgency. You can also request to think about the options and return with further questions or e-mail your doctor later with questions.
  5. The day of surgery, you will be admitted to the hospital where a new MRI scan may be obtained. This MRI is used for the surgery. After that you will be brought to the operating room area for your spine surgery.  After the surgery, you will go to the recovery room or the neurosciences intensive care unit.
  6. After surgery, your family will be able to see you within a few hours.  The final pathologic diagnosis on tissue obtained from your spine surgery is usually available within one week. 
  7. Once the diagnosis is obtained, you may or may not need additional treatment such as radiation or chemotherapy, you may or may not need life-long screening with MRIs and you may or may not need additional procedures and tests.  If you are a candidate to receive radiation therapy to the spine, you will be evaluated by a radiation oncologist who specializes in radiation treatments.  Radiation therapy, if indicated, may be delayed to allow time for healing after surgery.  Usually, chemotherapy for spinal tumors is not indicated.  If you require chemotherapy for your systemic cancer, you will be referred back to your original oncologist to make determinations regarding chemotherapy.  These decisions are based on the final pathology. We will review your treatment options with you and, in fact, you will probably discuss these with several members of our team.
  8. Your length of stay in the hospital will vary by the extent and type of surgery.  Each person will respond differently and recover differently.  Following surgery, you may need help with activities of daily living. This is referred to as rehabilitation. Rehabilitation may be done in an inpatient setting, which means you are admitted to the rehab unit or hospital.  It can also be done as an outpatient, which means you could receive therapy in your home or be transported to a rehab facility during the week.

It is imperative that you continue to be monitored closely by your medical oncologist. Every attempt will be made at maintaining and improving your quality of life through all available resources at the OSU James Cancer Hospital.

Ohio State is recognized by U.S.News & World Report as one of the nation's best hospitals for neurology and neurosurgery. Schedule an appointment with Ohio State's neurosurgery experts. Call 614-293-8714.