Oncological resection of primary spine tumors is associated with lower recurrence rates. However, even in the most experienced hands, the execution of a meticulously drafted plan sometimes fails. The objectives of this study were to determine how successful surgical teams are at achieving planned surgical margins and how successful surgeons are in intraoperatively assessing tumor margins. The secondary objective was to identify factors associated with successful execution of planned resection.
The Primary Tumor Research and Outcomes Network (PTRON) is a multicenter international prospective registry for the management of primary tumors of the spine. Using this registry, the authors compared 1) the planned surgical margin and 2) the intraoperative assessment of the margin by the surgeon with the postoperative assessment of the margin by the pathologist. Univariate analysis was used to assess whether factors such as histology, size, location, previous radiotherapy, and revision surgery were associated with successful execution of the planned margins.
Three hundred patients were included. The surgical plan was successfully achieved in 224 (74.7%) patients. The surgeon correctly assessed the intraoperative margins, as reported in the final assessment by the pathologist, in 239 (79.7%) patients. On univariate analysis, no factor had a statistically significant influence on successful achievement of planned margins.
In high-volume cancer centers around the world, planned surgical margins can be achieved in approximately 75% of cases. The morbidity of the proposed intervention must be balanced with the expected success rate in order to optimize patient management and surgical decision-making.