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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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Oral Presentations

2010 AANS Annual Meeting Philadelphia, Pennsylvania May 1–5, 2010

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Daniel M. Sciubba, Rory J. Petteys, Sophia F. Shakur, Ziya L. Gokaslan, Edward F. McCarthy, Michael T. Collins, Matthew J. McGirt, Patrick C. Hsieh, Clarke S. Nelson and Jean-Paul Wolinsky

En bloc spondylectomy represents a radical resection of a spinal segment most often reserved for patients presenting with a primary extradural spine tumor or a solitary metastasis in the setting of an indolent, well-controlled systemic malignancy. The authors report a case in which en bloc spondylectomy was conducted to control a metabolically active spine tumor. A 56-year-old woman, who suffered from severe tumor-induced osteomalacia, was found to have a fibroblast growth factor-23–secreting phosphaturic mesenchymal tumor in the T-8 vertebral body. En bloc resection was conducted, leading to resolution of her tumor-induced osteomalacia. This case suggests that radical spondylectomy may be beneficial in the management of metabolically or endocrinologically active tumors of the spine.

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Patrick C. Hsieh, Tyler R. Koski, Daniel M. Sciubba, Dave J. Moller, Brian A. O'shaughnessy, Khan W. Li, Ziya L. Gokaslan, Stephen L. Ondra, Richard G. Fessler, and John C. Liu

Minimally invasive surgery (MIS) in the spine was primarily developed to reduce approach-related morbidity and to improve clinical outcomes compared with those following conventional open spine surgery. Over the past several years, minimally invasive spinal procedures have gained recognition and their utilization has increased. In particular, MIS is now routinely used in the treatment of degenerative spine disorders and has been shown to be as effective as conventional open spine surgeries. Although the procedures are not yet widely recognized in the context of complex spine surgery, the true potential in minimizing approach-related morbidity is far greater in the treatment of complex spinal diseases such as spinal trauma, spinal deformities, and spinal oncology. Conventional open spine surgeries for complex spinal disorders are often associated with significant soft tissue disruption, blood loss, prolonged recovery time, and postsurgical pain. In this article the authors review numerous cases of complex spine disorders managed with MIS techniques and discuss the current and future implications of these approaches for complex spinal pathologies.