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Paul E. Kaloostian, Patricia L. Zadnik, Jennifer E. Kim, Mari L. Groves, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Ziya L. Gokaslan, Timothy F. Witham, Ali Bydon and Daniel M. Sciubba

Pheochromocytomas of the spine are uncommon and require careful preoperative planning. The authors retrospectively reviewed the charts of 5 patients with metastatic spinal pheochromocytoma who had undergone surgical treatment over the past 10 years at their medical center. They reviewed patient age, history of pheochromocytoma resection, extent and location of metastases, history of alpha blockage, surgical level, surgical procedure, postoperative complications, tumor recurrence, and survival. Metastases involved the cervical (1 patient), thoracic (3 patients), and lumbar (2 patients) levels. Preoperative treatment included primary pheochromocytoma resection, chemotherapy, alpha blockade, embolization, and radiation. Three patients had tumor recurrence, and 2 underwent 2-stage reoperations for tumor extension. Hemodynamic complications were common: 2 patients developed pulseless electrical activity arrest within 4 months after surgery, 1 patient had profound postoperative tachycardia with fever and an elevated creatine kinase level, and 1 patient experienced transient postoperative hypotension and paraplegia. One patient died of complications related to disseminated cerebral and spinal disease.

With careful preoperative and surgical management, patients with symptomatic metastatic spinal pheochromocytoma can benefit from aggressive surgical treatment. Postoperative cardiovascular complications are common even months after surgery, and patients should be closely monitored long term.

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Paul E. Kaloostian, Jennifer E. Kim, Ali Bydon, Daniel M. Sciubba, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Ziya L. Gokaslan and Timothy F. Witham


The authors describe the largest case series of 8 patients with intracranial hemorrhage (ICH) after spinal surgery and identify associated pre-, intra-, and postoperative risk factors in relation to outcome.


The authors retrospectively reviewed the cases of 8 patients treated over 16 years at a single institution and also reviewed the existing literature and collected demographic, treatment, and outcome information from 33 unique cases of remote ICH after spinal surgery.


The risk factors most correlated with ICH postoperatively were the presence of a CSF leak intraoperatively and the use of drains postoperatively with moderate hourly serosanguineous output in the early postoperative period.


Intracranial hemorrhage is a rare complication of spinal surgery that is associated with CSF leakage and use of drains postoperatively, with moderate serosanguinous output. These associations do not justify a complete avoidance of drains in patients with CSF leakage but may guide the treating physician to keep in mind drain output and timing of drain removal, while noting any changes in neurological examination status in the meantime. Additionally, continued and worsening neurological symptoms after spinal surgery may warrant cranial imaging to rule out intracranial hemorrhage, usually within the first 24 hours after surgery. The presence of cerebellar hemorrhage and hydrocephalus indicated a trend toward worse outcome.

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Paul E. Kaloostian, Patricia L. Zadnik, Ahmed J. Awad, Edward McCarthy, Jean-Paul Wolinsky and Daniel M. Sciubba

Resection of metastatic pheochromocytomas may be complicated by transient postoperative neurological deficits due to hypotension. The authors report the first case of en bloc excision of a spinal pheochromocytoma with associated long-term hypertensive management off all medication. Interestingly, this is the first case of transient hypotension following en bloc resection of pheochromocytoma associated with temporary hypotension-associated neurological decline that resolved completely after correction of hypotension postoperatively. A 23-year-old man with a prior adrenalectomy for pheochromocytoma presented with focal thoracic pain. He had a known T-10 vertebral body lesion for which he received chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Imaging demonstrated increased destruction of the T-10 vertebral body, which was concerning for tumor growth. The patient underwent angiographic embolization followed by single-stage posterior en bloc vertebrectomy with placement of a cage and posterior instrumentation and fusion without event. However, approximately 24 hours after surgery, the patient's systolic blood pressure was consistently no higher than 70 mm Hg. During this time, he began suffering from severe bilateral lower-extremity weakness. His systolic blood pressure increased with dopamine, and his strength immediately improved. The patient's oral regimen of adrenergic blockade was stopped, and he recovered without event. Since that time, the patient has been symptom free and requires no antihypertensive medication. The role of en bloc resection for metastatic lesions of the spine is controversial but may be warranted in cases of metastatic pheochromocytoma. En bloc resection avoids intralesional tumor resection and thus may help prevent complications of hypertensive crisis associated with hormonal secretion and extensive blood loss, which are not uncommon with pheochromocytoma resection surgeries. Additionally, the role of en bloc spondylectomy in this setting may allow for metabolic treatment as patients with actively secreting tumors may no longer require antiadrenergic medications.