New Delhi: Doctors have now come out with a new `high` in alcohol use -- treating spinal tumours. The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has successfully treated over 30 patients suffering from Vertebral Hemangiomas - an uncommon type of spinal tumor-using alcohol which is injected to reduce the blood supply to the tumor cells and subsequently kill them. Dr P Sarat Chandra, Associate Professor in Department of Neurosurgery, said they first used the technique in ten patients. After getting encouraging results, another 20 patients received the same treatment, which is not only less tedious and gives better results but is also far cheaper than the conventional method. Citing reasons for using alcohol for the treatment of this spinal cord tumor, Chandra said, "It is doubly advantageous." Alcohol (absolute ethanol) is the most effective and inexpensive blood clogging (embolizing) material available at a cost of Rs 20 or 30 in comparison to a Rs two or three lakh required for conventional embolization.The toxicity in alcohol is enough to kill the tumor cells and later encourages new normal bone formation, he said. Treatment of such tumors includes first stopping of small blood vessels and blocking the flow of blood to a tumor. This allows the surgeon to remove the tumor compressing thespinal cord safely without any risk of bleeding. "This is followed by placement of rod and screws to prevent fractures and allow bone fusion."If we go back to history of medicine, alcohol was perhaps the most effective embolizing agent and was first used to treat a type of kidney tumor," Chandra said, adding, "it was also later used to treat vertebral hemangiomas by injecting them through the skin directly".
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