Wound breakdown and infection are common postoperative complications following resection of spinal neoplasms. Accordingly, it has become common practice at some centers for plastic surgeons to assist with closure of large posterior defects after spine tumor resection. In this study, the authors tested the hypothesis that plastic surgery closure of complex spinal defects improves wound outcomes following resection of spinal neoplastic disease.
Electronic medical records of consecutive patients who underwent resection of a spinal neoplasm between June 2015 and January 2019 were retrospectively reviewed. Patients were separated into two subpopulations based on whether the surgical wound was closed by plastic surgery or neurosurgery. Patient demographics, preoperative risk factors, surgical details, and postoperative outcomes were collected in a central database and summarized using descriptive statistics. Outcomes of interest included rates of wound complication, reoperation, and mortality. Known preoperative risk factors for wound complication in spinal oncology were identified based on literature review and grouped categorically. The presence of each category of risk factors was then compared between groups. Univariate and multivariate linear regressions were applied to define associations between individual risk factors and wound complications.
One hundred six patients met inclusion criteria, including 60 wounds primarily closed by plastic surgery and 46 by neurosurgery. The plastic surgery population included more patients with systemic metastases (58% vs 37%, p = 0.029), prior radiation (53% vs 17%, p < 0.001), prior chemotherapy (37% vs 15%, p = 0.014), and sacral region tumors (25% vs 7%, p = 0.012), and more patients who underwent procedures requiring larger incisions (7.2 ± 3.6 vs 4.5 ± 2.6 levels, p < 0.001), prolonged operative time (413 ± 161 vs 301 ± 181 minutes, p = 0.001), and greater blood loss (906 ± 1106 vs 283 ± 373 ml, p < 0.001). The average number of risk factor categories present was significantly greater in the plastic surgery group (2.57 vs 1.74, p < 0.001). Despite the higher relative risk, the plastic surgery group did not experience a significantly higher rate of wound complication (28% vs 17%, p = 0.145), reoperation (17% vs 9%, p = 0.234), or all-cause mortality (30% vs 13%, p = 0.076). One patient died from wound-related complications in each group (p = 0.851). Regression analyses identified diabetes, multilevel instrumentation, and BMI as the factors associated with the greatest wound complications.
Involving plastic surgery in the closure of spinal wounds after resection of neoplasms may ameliorate expected increases in wound complications among higher-risk patients.