Treatment of epidural spinal cord compression (ESCC) caused by tumor includes surgical decompression and stabilization followed by postoperative radiation. In the case of severe axial loading impairment, anterior column reconstruction is indicated. The authors describe the use of interbody distraction to restore vertebral body height and correct kyphotic angulation prior to reconstruction with polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA), and report the long-term durability of such reconstruction.
A single institution, prospective series of patients with ESCC undergoing single-stage decompression, anterior column reconstruction, and posterior instrumentation from 2013 to 2016 was retrospectively analyzed. Several demographic, perioperative, and radiographic measurements were collected. Descriptive statistics were compiled, in addition to postoperative changes in anterior height, posterior height, and kyphosis. Paired Student t-tests were performed for each variable. Overall survival was calculated using the techniques described by Kaplan and Meier.
Twenty-one patients underwent single-stage posterior decompression with interbody distraction and anterior column reconstruction using PMMA. The median age and Karnofsky Performance Scale score were 61 years and 70, respectively. Primary tumors included renal cell (n = 8), lung (n = 4), multiple myeloma (n = 2), prostate (n = 2), and other (n = 5). Eighteen patients underwent a single-level vertebral body reconstruction and 3 underwent multilevel transpedicular corpectomies. The median survival duration was 13.3 months. In the immediate postoperative setting, statistically significant improvement was noted in anterior body height (p = 0.0017, 95% confidence interval [CI] −4.15 to −1.11) and posterior body height (p = 0.0116, 95% CI −3.14 to −0.45) in all patients, and improved kyphosis was observed in those with oblique endplates (p = 0.0002, 95% CI 11.16–20.27). In the median follow-up duration of 13.9 months, the authors observed 3 cases of asymptomatic PMMA subsidence. One patient required reoperation in the form of extension of fusion.
In situ interbody distraction allows safe and durable reconstruction with PMMA, restores vertebral height, and corrects kyphotic deformities associated with severe pathological fractures caused by tumor. This is accomplished with minimal manipulation of the thecal sac and avoiding an extensive 360° surgical approach in patients who cannot tolerate extensive surgery.