Advancements in less invasive lateral retropleural/retroperitoneal approaches aim to address the limitation of posterolateral approaches and avoid complications associated with anterior open thoracotomy or thoracoabdominal approaches.
Consecutive patients treated with a mini-open lateral approach for thoracic or thoracolumbar anterior column pathologies were analyzed in a retrospective case series including clinical and radiographic outcomes. Special attention is given to operative techniques and surgical nuances.
Eleven patients underwent a mini-open lateral retropleural or combined retropleural/retroperitoneal approach for thoracic or thoracolumbar junction lesions. Surgical indications included chronic fracture/deformity (n = 5), acute fracture (n = 2), neoplasm (n = 2), and osteomyelitis (n = 2). The mean length of postoperative hospital stay was 7.2 days (range 2–19 days). All patients ultimately had successful decompression and reconstruction with a mean follow-up of 16.7 months (range 6–29 months). Axial back pain assessed by the visual analog scale improved from a mean score of 8.2 to 2.2. Complications included 1 patient with deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism and 1 with pneumonia. One patient developed increased leg weakness, which subsequently improved. One patient undergoing corpectomy with only lateral plate fixation developed cage subsidence requiring posterior stabilization.
Mini-open lateral retropleural and retroperitoneal corpectomies can safely achieve anterior column reconstruction and spinal deformity correction for various thoracic and thoracolumbar vertebral pathologies.