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  • Author or Editor: Laurence Rhines x
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Allen W. Burton, Laurence D. Rhines and Ehud Mendel

Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are relatively new techniques used to treat painful vertebral compression fractures (VCFs). Vertebroplasty is the injection of bone cement, generally polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), into a vertebral body (VB). Kyphoplasty is the placement of balloons (called “tamps”) into the VB, followed by an inflation/deflation sequence to create a cavity prior to the cement injection. These procedures are most often performed in a percutaneous fashion on an outpatient (or short stay) basis. The mechanism of action is unknown, but it is postulated that stabilization of the fracture leads to analgesia. The procedures are indicated for painful VCFs due to osteoporosis or malignancy, and for painful hemangiomas. These procedures may be efficacious in treating painful vertebral metastasis and traumatic VCFs. Much evidence favors the use of these procedures for pain associated with the aforementioned disorders. The risks associated with the procedures are low but serious complications can occur. These risks include spinal cord compression, nerve root compression, venous embolism, and pulmonary embolism including cardiovascular collapse. The risk/benefit ratio appears to be favorable in carefully selected patients. The technical aspects of the procedures are presented in detail along with guidelines for patient selection. A comprehensive review of the evidence for the procedures and the reported complications is presented.

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Stephen J. Hentschel, Allen W. Burton, Daryl R. Fourney, Laurence D. Rhines and Ehud Mendel

Object. The purpose of this study was to examine a group of patients with cancer who underwent a vertebroplasty or a kyphoplasty for a vertebral body (VB) fracture, even though the procedure may have been considered contraindicated based on previous reports in the literature.

Methods. The electronic database maintained by the Departments of Neurosurgery and Anesthesiology—Pain Management at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center was searched for patients who underwent vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty between January 2001 and July 2003. The criteria defining a contraindicated procedure were based on a review of the literature. Group I consisted of patients who did not undergo a contraindicated vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty, whereas Group II consisted of patients who underwent one of these procedures even though it may have been considered contraindicated.

There were 53 patients with fractures at 132 levels who met the criteria for the study. Of these, 17 patients with fractures at 18 levels (14% of total) were considered to have undergone a contraindicated vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty (Group II). There were 12 complications (11%) in the 114 levels in Group I and seven complications (39%) in the 18 levels in Group II (p = 0.03). The most common complication was cement extrusion from the anterior VB that did not involve the venous system. No patient required an open surgical procedure to remove extruded cement.

Conclusions. Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty appear to be safe and effective in the setting of severe back pain caused by VB fracture that is unresponsive to other therapies, even in the presence of relative contraindications to the procedures.

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Indro Chakrabarti, Allen W. Burton, Ganesh Rao, Iman Feiz-Erfan, Roman Hlatky, Laurence D. Rhines and Ehud Mendel

✓ The authors report the use of percutaneous transpedicular vertebroplasty performed using polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) in two patients. These men (53 and 57 years old) had previously undergone open surgery and posterior instrumentation to treat myelomatous compression fractures. Both patients presented with acute back pain that manifested after minor activities. Kyphotic wedge fractures were diagnosed at T-11 in one case and at L-1 in the other. Both patients were treated at other hospitals with laminectomy and instrumented fusion; multiple myeloma was diagnosed after surgery. The patients experienced severe, recalcitrant, and progressive pain; on referral, they were found to have persistent kyphosis. Multiple myelomatous lesions of the spine were seen in one case and in the other the L-1 fracture represented the only site of disease. Percutaneous vertebroplasty was performed by injecting PMMA into the anterior third of the compressed vertebral body. Both patients experienced a 50% reduction in pain immediately after treatment; 3 months later both were walking and reported minimal back pain while undergoing treatment for multiple myeloma. Three years after surgery one patient reported no back pain and no progressive instability of the spine. Four years after surgery the other patient remains pain free, ambulatory, and with overall disease remission.

Percutaneous vertebroplasty provided effective analgesia in these two patients with progressive back pain despite posterior stabilization. In both cases, the anterior column was effectively stabilized. A much larger operative intervention with its attendant risks of morbidity was avoided. In addition, subsequent aggressive medical treatment was well tolerated.

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Nicholas S. Boehling, David R. Grosshans, Pamela K. Allen, Mary F. McAleer, Allen W. Burton, Syed Azeem, Laurence D. Rhines and Eric L. Chang

Object

The aim of this study was to identify potential risk factors for and determine the rate of vertebral compression fracture (VCF) after intensity-modulated, near-simultaneous, CT image–guided stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) for spinal metastases.

Methods

The study group consisted of 123 vertebral bodies (VBs) in 93 patients enrolled in prospective protocols for metastatic disease. Data from these patients were retrospectively analyzed. Stereotactic body radiotherapy consisted of 1, 3, or 5 fractions for overall median doses of 18, 27, and 30 Gy, respectively. Magnetic resonance imaging studies, obtained at baseline and at each follow-up, were evaluated for VCFs, tumor involvement, and radiographic progression. Self-reported average pain levels were scored based on the 11-point (0–10) Brief Pain Inventory both at baseline and at follow-up. Obesity was defined as a body mass index ≥ 30.

Results

The median imaging follow-up was 14.9 months (range 1–71 months). Twenty-five new or progressing fractures (20%) were identified, and the median time to progression was 3 months after SBRT. The most common histologies included renal cancer (36 VBs, 10 fractures, 10 tumor progressions), breast cancer (20 VBs, 0 fractures, 5 tumor progressions), thyroid cancer (14 VBs, 1 fracture, 2 tumor progressions), non–small cell lung cancer (13 VBs, 3 fractures, 3 tumor progressions), and sarcoma (9 VBs, 2 fractures, 2 tumor progressions). Fifteen VBs were treated with kyphoplasty or vertebroplasty after SBRT, with 5 procedures done for preexisting VCFs. Tumor progression was noted in 32 locations (26%) with 5 months' median time to progression. At the time of noted fracture progression there was a trend toward higher average pain scores but no significant change in the median value. Univariate logistic regression showed that an age > 55 years (HR 6.05, 95% CI 2.1–17.47), a preexisting fracture (HR 5.05, 95% CI 1.94–13.16), baseline pain and narcotic use before SBRT (pain: HR 1.31, 95% CI 1.06–1.62; narcotic: HR 2.98, 95% CI 1.17–7.56) and after SBRT (pain: HR 1.34, 95% CI 1.06–1.70; narcotic: HR 3.63, 95% CI 1.41–9.29) were statistically significant predictors of fracture progression. On multivariate analysis an age > 55 years (HR 10.66, 95% CI 2.81–40.36), a preexisting fracture (HR 9.17, 95% CI 2.31–36.43), and baseline pain (HR 1.41, 95% CI 1.05–1.9) were found to be significant risks, whereas obesity (HR 0.02, 95% CI 0–0.2) was protective.

Conclusions

Stereotactic body radiotherapy is associated with a significant risk (20%) of VCF. Risk factors for VCF include an age > 55 years, a preexisting fracture, and baseline pain. These risk factors may aid in the selection of which spinal SBRT patients should be considered for prophylactic vertebral stabilization or augmentation procedures. Clinical trial registration no.: NCT00508443.

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Terri S. Armstrong, Ibrahima Gning, Tito R. Mendoza, Elizabeth Vera-Bolanos, Mark R. Gilbert, Laurence D. Rhines, Jeffrey S. Weinberg, Gisela Sanchez-Williams, Victor Levin, Allen W. Burton and Charles Cleeland

Object

Tumors involving the spine have unique associated neurological symptoms. The occurrence of spine-related symptoms has been shown to predict treatment course and survival in several studies conducted in patients with solid tumors and consequent spinal cord dysfunction. Currently, no instrument that measures both neurological and cancer-related symptoms exists for patients with spine tumors. The objective of this study was to develop a reliable and valid self-reporting instrument for patients with spine tumors.

Methods

Patients with diagnosed tumors involving the spine (both primary and metastatic) participated in this study. Data collection tools included a patient-completed demographic data sheet, an investigator-completed clinician checklist, and the core M. D. Anderson Symptom Inventory to which were added 16 neurological symptoms (M. D. Anderson Symptom Inventory–Spine Tumor Module [MDASI-SP]). The authors evaluated the reliability and validity of the MDASI-SP in patients with spine tumors.

Results

One hundred twenty-six patients participated in the study. Participants were primarily white (73%) males (53%) with metastatic spine tumors (76%). They ranged in age from 18–81 years (median 56 years). Cognitive debriefing of the MDASI-SP was conducted showing the instrument was clear, concise, and easily understood by patients. The most severe core symptoms were pain, fatigue, numbness, disturbed sleep, and distress. The most severe spine module symptoms were spine pain, numbness, weakness in the legs, neck stiffness, and changes in bowel or sexual function. The mean symptom severity of items as well as a cluster analysis was used to reduce the number of total items to 18 (5 spine module items). Regression analysis showed that 57.4% of the variability in symptom interference with daily function was explained by the final instrument. Factor analysis was performed to determine the underlying constructs being evaluated by the symptom items. The 18-item MDASI-SP measures 4 underlying constructs including a disease, an autonomic, a constitutional/treatment, and an emotional factor. The internal consistency (reliability) of the MDASI-SP was 0.946, and the instrument was sensitive to disease severity based on the Karnofsky Performance Scale (KPS). The mean symptom severity was 1.52 for those with good KPS scores (80–100) versus 2.46 for those with poor scores (p < 0.01). The instrument was also sensitive to neurological status according to the Frankel grade (p < 0.001) and inpatient status (p < 0.01).

Conclusions

The 18-item MDASI-SP demonstrated validity and reliability in patients with spine tumors as a composite measure of disease-related symptoms. This instrument can be used to describe symptom occurrence throughout the disease trajectory and to evaluate interventions designed for symptom management.