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Camilo A. Molina, Christopher P. Ames, Dean Chou, Laurence D. Rhines, Patrick C. Hsieh, Patricia L. Zadnik, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Ziya L. Gokaslan, and Daniel M. Sciubba


Chordomas involving the mobile spine are ideally managed via en bloc resection with reconstruction to optimize local control and possibly offer cure. In the cervical spine, local anatomy poses unique challenges, limiting the feasibility of aggressive resection. The authors present a multi-institutional series of 16 cases of cervical chordomas removed en bloc. Particular attention was paid to clinical outcome, complications, and recurrence. In addition, outcomes were assessed according to position of tumor at the C1–2 level versus the subaxial (SA) spine (C3–7).


The authors reviewed cases involving patients who underwent en bloc resection of cervical chordoma at 4 large spine centers. Patients were included if the lesion epicenter involved the C-1 to C-7 vertebral bodies. Demographic data and details of surgery, follow-up course, exposure to adjuvant therapy, and complications were obtained. Outcome was correlated with presence of tumor in C1–2 versus subaxial spine via a Student t-test.


Sixteen patients were identified (mean age at presentation 55 ± 14 years). Seven cases (44%) cases involved C1–2, and 16 involved the subaxial spine. Median survival did not differ significantly different between the C1–2 (72 months) and SA (60 months) groups (p = 0.65). A combined (staged anteroposterior) approach was used in 81% of the cases. Use of the combined approach was significantly more common in treatment of subaxial than C1–2 tumors (100% vs 57%, p = 0.04). En bloc resection was attempted via an anterior approach in 6% of cases (C1–2: 14.3%; SA: 0%; p = 0.17) and a posterior approach in 13% of cases (C1–2: 29%; SA: 0%; p = 0.09). The most commonly reported margin classification was marginal (56% of cases), followed by violated (25%) and wide (19%). En bloc excision of subaxial tumors was significantly more likely to result in marginal margins than excision of C1–2 tumors (C1–2: 29%; SA: 78%; p = 0.03). C1–2 tumors were associated with significantly higher rates of postoperative complications (C1–2: 71%; SA: 22%; p = 0.03). Both local and distant tumor recurrence was greatest for C1–2 tumors (local C1–2: 29%; local SA: 11%; distant C1–2: 14%; distant SA: 0%). Statistical analysis of tumor recurrence based on tumor location was not possible due to the small number of cases. There was no between-groups difference in exposure to postoperative adjuvant radiotherapy. There was no difference in median survival between groups receiving proton beam radiotherapy or intensity-modulated radiotherapy versus no radiation therapy (p = 0.8).


Compared with en bloc resection of chordomas involving the subaxial cervical spine, en bloc resection of chordomas involving the upper cervical spine (C1–2) is associated with poorer outcomes, such as less favorable margins, higher rates of complications, and increased tumor recurrence. Data from this cohort do not support a statistically significant difference in survival for patients with C1–2 versus subaxial disease, but larger studies are needed to further study survival differences.

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Daniel M. Sciubba, Mohamed Macki, Mohamad Bydon, Niccole M. Germscheid, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Stefano Boriani, Chetan Bettegowda, Dean Chou, Alessandro Luzzati, Jeremy J. Reynolds, Zsolt Szövérfi, Patti Zadnik, Laurence D. Rhines, Ziya L. Gokaslan, Charles G. Fisher, and Peter Paul Varga


Clinical outcomes in patients with primary spinal osteochondromas are limited to small series and sporadic case reports. The authors present data on the first long-term investigation of spinal osteochondroma cases.


An international, multicenter ambispective study on primary spinal osteochondroma was performed. Patients were included if they were diagnosed with an osteochondroma of the spine and received surgical treatment between October 1996 and June 2012 with at least 1 follow-up. Perioperative prognostic variables, including patient age, tumor size, spinal level, and resection, were analyzed in reference to long-term local recurrence and survival. Tumor resections were compared using Enneking appropriate (EA) or Enneking inappropriate surgical margins.


Osteochondromas were diagnosed in 27 patients at an average age of 37 years. Twenty-two lesions were found in the mobile spine (cervical, thoracic, or lumbar) and 5 in the fixed spine (sacrum). Twenty-three cases (88%) were benign tumors (Enneking tumor Stages 1–3), whereas 3 (12%) exhibited malignant changes (Enneking tumor Stages IA–IIB). Sixteen patients (62%) underwent en bloc treatment—that is, wide or marginal resection—and 10 (38%) underwent intralesional resection. Twenty-four operations (92%) followed EA margins. No one received adjuvant therapy. Two patients (8%) experienced recurrences: one in the fixed spine and one in the mobile spine. Both recurrences occurred in latent Stage 1 tumors following en bloc resection. No osteochondroma-related deaths were observed.


In the present study, most patients underwent en bloc resection and were treated as EA cases. Both recurrences occurred in the Stage 1 tumor cohort. Therefore, although benign in character, osteochondromas still require careful management and thorough follow-up.

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Ziya L. Gokaslan, Patricia L. Zadnik, Daniel M. Sciubba, Niccole Germscheid, C. Rory Goodwin, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Chetan Bettegowda, Mari L. Groves, Alessandro Luzzati, Laurence D. Rhines, Charles G. Fisher, Peter Pal Varga, Mark B. Dekutoski, Michelle J. Clarke, Michael G. Fehlings, Nasir A. Quraishi, Dean Chou, Jeremy J. Reynolds, Richard P. Williams, Norio Kawahara, and Stefano Boriani


A chordoma is an indolent primary spinal tumor that has devastating effects on the patient's life. These lesions are chemoresistant, resistant to conventional radiotherapy, and moderately sensitive to proton therapy; however, en bloc resection remains the preferred treatment for optimizing patient outcomes. While multiple small and largely retrospective studies have investigated the outcomes following en bloc resection of chordomas in the sacrum, there have been few large-scale studies on patients with chordomas of the mobile spine. The goal of this study was to review the outcomes of surgically treated patients with mobile spine chordomas at multiple international centers with respect to local recurrence and survival. This multiinstitutional retrospective study collected data between 1988 and 2012 about prognosis-predicting factors, including various clinical characteristics and surgical techniques for mobile spine chordoma. Tumors were classified according to the Enneking principles and analyzed in 2 treatment cohorts: Enneking-appropriate (EA) and Enneking-inappropriate (EI) cohorts. Patients were categorized as EA when the final pathological assessment of the margin matched the Enneking recommendation; otherwise, they were categorized as EI.


Descriptive statistics were used to summarize the data (Student t-test, chi-square, and Fisher exact tests). Recurrence and survival data were analyzed using Kaplan-Meier survival curves, log-rank tests, and multivariate Cox proportional hazard modeling.


A total of 166 patients (55 female and 111 male patients) with mobile spine chordoma were included. The median patient follow-up was 2.6 years (range 1 day to 22.5 years). Fifty-eight (41%) patients were EA and 84 (59%) patients were EI. The type of biopsy (p < 0.001), spinal location (p = 0.018), and if the patient received adjuvant therapy (p < 0.001) were significantly different between the 2 cohorts. Overall, 58 (35%) patients developed local recurrence and 57 (34%) patients died. Median survival was 7.0 years postoperative: 8.4 years postoperative for EA patients and 6.4 years postoperative for EI patients (p = 0.023). The multivariate analysis showed that the EI cohort was significantly associated with an increased risk of local recurrence in comparison with the EA cohort (HR 7.02; 95% CI 2.96–16.6; p < 0.001), although no significant difference in survival was observed.


EA resection plays a major role in decreasing the risk for local recurrence in patients with chordoma of the mobile spine.