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Giacomo G. Vecil, Dima Suki, Marcos V. C. Maldaun, Frederick F. Lang and Raymond SaWaya

Object. To date, no report has been published on outcomes of patients undergoing resection for brain metastases who were previously treated with stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS). Consequently, the authors reviewed their institutional experience with this clinical scenario to assess the efficacy of surgical intervention.

Methods. Sixty-one patients (each harboring three or fewer brain lesions), who were treated at a single institution between June 1993 and August 2002 were identified. Patient charts and their neuroimaging and pathological reports were retrospectively reviewed to determine overall survival rates, surgical complications, and recurrence rates.

A univariate analysis revealed that patient preoperative recursive partitioning analysis (RPA) classification, primary disease status, preoperative Karnofsky Performance Scale score, type of focal treatment undergone for nonindex lesions, and major postoperative surgical complications were factors that significantly affected survival (p ≤ 0.05). In contrast, only the RPA class and focal (conventional surgery or SRS) treatment of nonindex lesions significantly (or nearly significantly) affected survival in the multivariate analysis. Major neurological complications occurred in only 2% of patients. The median time to distant recurrence after resection was 8.4 months; that to local recurrence was not reached. The overall median survival time was 11.1 months, with 25% of patients surviving 2 or more years. Conventional surgery facilitated tapering of steroid administration.

Conclusions. The complication, morbidity, survival, and recurrence rates are consistent with those seen after conventional surgery for recurrent brain metastases. Our results indicate that in selected patients with a favorable RPA class in whom nonindex lesions are treated with focal modalities, surgery can provide long-term control of SRS-treated lesions and positively affect overall survival.

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Daniel K. Fahim, Claudio E. Tatsui, Dima Suki, Joy Gumin, Frederick F. Lang and Laurence D. Rhines


There is currently no reproducible animal model of human primary malignant bone tumors in the spine to permit laboratory investigation of the human disease. Therefore, the authors sought to adapt their previously developed orthotopic model of spinal metastasis to a model for primary malignant bone tumors of the spine.


A transperitoneal surgical approach was used to implant osteosarcoma (Krib-1) into the L-3 vertebral body of nude mice via a drill hole. Motor function was evaluated daily using the previously validated qualitative key milestones of tail dragging, dorsal stepping, hindlimb sweeping, and paralysis. A subset of these animals was euthanized upon reaching the various milestones, and the spines were removed, sectioned, and stained. The degree of spinal cord compression was correlated with the occurrence of milestones and assessed by a ratio between the neural elements divided by the area of the spinal canal. Another subset of animals received stably transfected Krib-1 cells with the luciferase gene, and bioluminescence was measured at 10, 20, and 30 days postimplantation.


Osteosarcoma xenografts grew in all animals according to a reliable and reproducible time course; the mean time for development of behavioral milestones was noted in relation to the day of implantation (Day 1). Tail dragging (Milestone 1) occurred on Day 19.06 (95% CI 16.11–22.01), dorsal stepping (Milestone 2) occurred on Day 28.78 (95% CI 26.79–30.77), hindlimb sweeping (Milestone 3) occurred on Day 35.61 (95% CI 32.9–38.32), and paralysis of the hindlimb (Milestone 4) occurred on Day 41.78 (95% CI 39.31–44.25). These clinically observed milestones correlated with increasing compression of the spinal cord on histological sections. The authors observed a progressive increase in the local bioluminescence (in photons/cm2/sec) of the implanted level over time with a mean of 2.17 (range 0.0–8.61) at Day 10, mean 4.68 (range 1.17–8.52) at Day 20, and mean 5.54 (range 1.22–9.99) at Day 30.


The authors have developed the first orthotopic murine model of a primary malignant bone tumor in the spine, in which neurological decline reproducibly correlates with tumor progression as evidenced by pathological confirmation and noninvasive bioluminescence measurements. Although developed for osteosarcoma, this model can be expanded to study other types of primary malignant bone tumors in the spine. This model will potentially allow animal testing of targeted therapies against specific primary malignant tumor types.

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Daryl R. Fourney, Dima Abi-Said, Frederick F. Lang, Ian E. McCutcheon and Ziya L. Gokaslan

Object. Few reports are available on the use of pedicle screw fixation for cancer-related spinal instability. The authors present their experience with pedicle screw fixation in the management of malignant spinal column tumors.

Methods. Records for patients with malignant spinal tumors who underwent pedicle screw fixation at the authors' institution between September 1994 and December 1999 were retrospectively reviewed.

Results. Ninety-five patients with malignant spinal tumors underwent 100 surgeries involving pedicle screw fixation: metastatic spinal disease was present in 81 patients, and locally invasive tumors were demonstrated in 14 patients. Indications for surgery were pain (98%) and/or neurological dysfunction (80%). A posterior (48%) or a combined anterior—posterior (52%) approach was performed depending on the extent of tumor and the patient's condition. At the mean follow up of 8.2 months, 43 patients (45%) had died; median survival, as determined by Kaplan—Meier analysis, was 14.8 months. At 1 month postsurgery, self-reported pain had improved in 87% of cases (p < 0.001), which is a finding substantiated by reductions in analgesic use, and 29 (47%) of 62 patients with preoperative neurological impairments were functionally improved (p < 0.001). Postoperative complications were associated only with preoperative radiation therapy (p = 0.002) and with preexisting serious medical conditions (p = 0.04). In two patients asymptomatic violation of the lateral wall of the pedicle was revealed on postoperative radiography. The 30-day mortality rate was 1%.

Conclusions. For selected patients with malignant spinal tumors, pedicle screw fixation after tumor resection may provide considerable pain relief and restore or preserve ambulation with acceptable rates of morbidity and mortality.

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Sumeer Lal, Michel Lacroix, Philip Tofilon, Gregory N. Fuller, Raymond Sawaya and Frederick F. Lang

Object. To overcome the problems associated with using stereotactic techniques to establish intracranial xenografts in nude mice and to treat engrafted tumors with intratumoral therapies (such as gene or viral therapies), the authors developed an implantable guide-screw system. In this study, they describe the guide-screw system, its method of implantation, and their experience with establishing xenografts and delivering intratumoral therapy.

Methods. The system consists of a 2.6-mm guide screw with a central 0.5-mm diameter hole that accepts the 26-gauge needle of a Hamilton syringe. The screw is implanted into a small drill hole made 2.5 mm lateral and 1 mm anterior to the bregma. A stylet is used to cap the screw between treatments. Tumor cells or therapeutic agents are injected in a freehand fashion by using a Hamilton syringe and a 26-gauge needle fitted with a cuff to determine the depth of injection. To test this system, guide screws were successfully implanted in 44 (98%) of 45 nude mice. After 1 to 2 weeks of recovery, 38 mice were inoculated with U87MG cells and killed 5 days later. On histological studies in 37 (97%) of these animals, xenografts were evident within the caudate nucleus (mean diameter 2.5 mm). To determine whether injections into the center of an established xenograft could be reproducibly achieved with the guide-screw system, an adenovirus vector containing the β-galactosidase gene was injected 3 days after cell implantation in 15 of the mice. All of these animals demonstrated transduced cells within the tumor. To demonstrate that engrafted animals have a uniform survival time that is indicative of reproducible tumor growth, the survival of six mice was assessed after engraftment with U87MG cells. All six animals died within 28 to 35 days.

Conclusions. The guide-screw system allows a large number of animals to be rapidly and reproducibly engrafted and for intratumoral treatments to be accurately delivered into established xenografts.

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Daryl R. Fourney, Dima Abi-Said, Laurence D. Rhines, Garrett L. Walsh, Frederick F. Lang, Ian E. McCutcheon and Ziya L. Gokaslan

Object. Thoracic or lumbar spine malignant tumors involving both the anterior and posterior columns represent a complex surgical problem. The authors review the results of treating patients with these lesions in whom surgery was performed via a simultaneous anterior—posterior approach.

Methods. The hospital records of 26 patients who underwent surgery via simultaneous combined approach for thoracic and lumbar spinal tumors at our institution from July 1994 to March 2000 were reviewed. Surgery was performed with the patients in the lateral decubitus position for the procedure. The technical details are reported.

The mean survival determined by Kaplan—Meier analysis was 43.4 months for the 15 patients with primary malignant tumors and 22.5 months for the 11 patients with metastatic spinal disease. At 1 month after surgery, 23 (96%) of 24 patients who complained of pain preoperatively reported improvements (p < 0.001, Wilcoxon signed-rank test), and eight (62%) of 13 patients with preoperative neurological deficits were functionally improved (p = 0.01). There were nine major complications, five minor complications, and no deaths within 30 days of surgery. Two patients (8%) later underwent surgery for recurrent tumor.

Conclusions. The simultaneous anterior—posterior approach is a safe and feasible alternative for the exposure tumors of the thoracic and lumbar spine that involve both the anterior and posterior columns. Advantages of the approach include direct visualization of adjacent neurovascular structures, the ability to achieve complete resection of lesions involving all three columns simultaneously (optimizing hemostasis), and the ability to perform excellent dorsal and ventral stabilization in one operative session.

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Julie E. York, Garrett L. Walsh, Frederick F. Lang, Joe B. Putnam, Ian E. McCutcheon, Stephen G. Swisher, Ritsuko Komaki and Ziya L Gokaslan

Object. Traditionally, superior sulcus tumors of the lung that involve the chest wall and spinal column have been considered to be unresectable, and historically, patients harboring these tumors have been treated with local radiation therapy with, at best, modest results. The value of gross-total resection remains unclear in this patient population; however, with the recent advances in surgical technique and spinal instrumentation, procedures involving more radical removal of such tumors are now possible. At The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, the authors have developed a new technique for resecting superior sulcus tumors that invade the chest wall and spinal column. They present a technical description of this procedure and results in nine patients in whom stage IIIb superior sulcus tumors extensively invaded the vertebral column.

Methods. These patients underwent gross-total tumor resection via a combined approach that included posterolateral thoracotomy, apical lobectomy, chest wall resection, laminectomy, vertebrectomy, anterior spinal column reconstruction with methylmethacrylate, and placement of spinal instrumentation. There were six men and three women, with a mean age of 55 years (range 36–72 years). Histological examination revealed squamous cell carcinoma (three patients), adenocarcinoma (four patients), and large cell carcinoma (two patients). The mean postoperative follow-up period was 16 months. All patients are currently ambulatory or remained ambulatory until they died. Pain related to tumor invasion improved in four patients and remained unchanged in five. In three patients instrumentation failed and required revision. There was one case of cerebrospinal fluid leakage that was treated with lumbar drainage and one case of wound breakdown that required revision. Two patients experienced local tumor recurrence, and one patient developed a second primary lung tumor.

Conclusions. The authors conclude that in selected patients, combined radical resection of superior sulcus tumors of the lung that involve the chest wall and spinal column may represent an acceptable treatment modality that can offer a potential cure while preserving neurological function and providing pain control.

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Daniel J. Miller, Frederick F. Lang, Garrett L. Walsh, Dima Abi-Said, David M. Wildrick and Ziya L. Gokaslan

Object. A unique method of anterior spinal reconstruction after decompressive surgery was used to prevent methylmethacrylate—dural contact in cancer patients who underwent corpectomy. The purpose of this study was to assess the efficacy and stability of polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) anterior surgical constructs in conjunction with anterior cervical plate stabilization (ACPS) in these patients.

Methods. Approximately 700 patients underwent spinal surgery at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center over a 4-year period. The authors conducted a retrospective outcome study for 29 of these patients who underwent anterior cervical or upper thoracic tumor resections while in the supine position. These patients were all treated using the coaxial, double-lumen, PMMA technique for anterior spinal reconstruction with subsequent ACPS. No postoperative external orthoses were used. Twenty-seven patients (93%) harbored metastatic spinal lesions and two (7%) harbored primary tumors. At 1 month postsurgery, significant improvement was seen in spinal axial pain (p < 0.001), radiculopathy (p < 0.00 1), gait (p = 0.008), and Frankel grade (p = 0.002). A total of nine patients (31%) underwent combined anterior—posterior 360° stabilization. Twenty-one patients (72%) experienced no complications. Complications related to instrumentation failure occurred in only two patients (7%). There were no cases in which the patients' status worsened, and there were no neurological complications or infections. The median Kaplan—Meier survival estimate for patients with spinal metastases was 9.5 months. At the end of the study, 13 patients (45%) had died and 16 (55%) were alive. Postoperative magnetic resonance images consistently demonstrated that the dura and PMMA in all patients remained separated.

Conclusions. The anterior, coaxial, double-lumen, PMMA reconstruction technique provides a simple means of spinal cord protection in patients in the supine position while undergoing surgery and offers excellent results in cancer patients who have undergone cervical vertebrectomy.

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Frederick F. Lang, W. K. Alfred Yung, Uma Raju, Floralyn Libunao, Nicholas H. A. Terry and Philip J. Tofilon

Object. The authors sought to determine whether combining p53 gene transfer with radiation therapy would enhance the therapeutic killing of p53 wild-type glioma cells. It has been shown in several reports that adenovirus-mediated delivery of the p53 gene into p53 mutant gliomas results in dramatic apoptosis, but has little effect on gliomas containing wild-type p53 alleles. Therefore, p53 gene therapy alone may not be a clinically effective treatment for gliomas because most gliomas are composed of both p53 mutant and wild-type cell populations. One potential approach to overcome this problem is to exploit the role p53 plays as an important determinant in the cellular response to ionizing radiation.

Methods. In vitro experiments were performed using the glioma cell line U87MG, which contains wild-type p53. Comparisons were made to the glioma cell line U251MG, which contains a mutant p53 allele. Monolayer cultures were infected with an adenovirus containing wild-type p53 (Ad5CMV-p53), a control vector (dl312), or Dulbecco's modified Eagle's medium (DMEM). Two days later, cultures were irradiated and colony-forming efficiency was determined. Transfection with p53 had only a minor effect on the plating efficiency of nonirradiated U87MG cells, reducing the plating efficiency from 0.23 ± 0.01 in DMEM to 0.22 ± 0.04 after addition of Ad5CMV-p53. However, p53 transfection significantly enhanced the radiosensitivity of these cells. The dose enhancement factor at a surviving fraction of 0.10 was 1.5, and the surviving fraction at 2 Gy was reduced from 0.61 in untransfected controls to 0.38 in p53-transfected cells. Transfection of the viral vector control (dl312) had no effect on U87MG radiosensitivity. In comparison, transfection of Ad5CMV-p53 into the p53 mutant cell line U251MG resulted in a significant decrease in the surviving fraction of these cells compared with controls, and no radiosensitization was detected.

To determine whether Ad5CMV-p53—mediated radiosensitization of U87MG cells involved an increase in the propensity of these cells to undergo apoptosis, flow cytometric analysis of terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated biotinylated-deoxyuridinetriphosphate nick-end labeling—stained cells was performed. Whereas the amount of radiation-induced apoptosis in uninfected and dl312-infected control cells was relatively small (2.1 ± 0.05% and 3.7 ± 0.5%, respectively), the combination of Ad5CMV-p53 infection and radiation treatment significantly increased the apoptotic frequency (18.6 ± 1.4%).

To determine whether infection with Ad5CMV-p53 resulted in increased expression of functional exogenous p53 protein, Western blot analysis of p53 was performed on U87MG cells that were exposed to 9 Gy of radiation 2 days after exposure to Ad5CMV-p53, dl312, or DMEM. Infection with Ad5CMV-p53 alone increased p53 levels compared with DMEM- or dl312-treated cells. Irradiation of Ad5CMV-p53—infected cells resulted in a further increase in p53 that reached a maximum at 2 hours postirradiation. To determine whether exogenous p53 provided by Ad5CMV-p53 had transactivating activity, U87MG cells were treated as described earlier and p21 messenger RNA levels were determined. Infection of U87MG cells with Ad5CMV-p53 only resulted in an increase in p21 compared with DMEM- and dl312-treated cells. Irradiation of Ad5CMV-p53—infected cells resulted in an additional time-dependent increase in p21 expression.

Conclusions. These data indicate that adenovirus-mediated delivery of p53 may enhance the radioresponse of brain tumor cells containing wild-type p53 and that this radiosensitization may involve converting from a clonogenic to the more sensitive apoptotic form of cell death. Although the mechanism underlying this enhanced apoptotic susceptibility is unknown, the Ad5CMV-p53—infected cells have a higher level of p53 protein, which increases further after irradiation, and this exogenous p53 is transcriptionally active. Thus, it is possible that the combination of Ad5CMV-p53 infection and radiation treatment increases p53 protein to a level that is sufficient to overcome at least partially the block in apoptosis existing in U87MG cells.

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Central nervous system gangliogliomas

Part 2: Clinical outcome

Frederick F. Lang, Fred J. Epstein, Joseph Ransohoff, Jeffrey C. Allen, Jeffrey Wisoff, I. Richmond Abbott and Douglas C. Miller

The records of 58 patients with gangliogliomas surgically treated between January 1, 1980, and June 30, 1990, were retrospectively reviewed in order to determine long-term survival, event-free survival, and functional outcome resulting after radical resection and to assess the impact of histological grading on outcome. Tumors were located in the cerebral hemisphere in 19 cases, the spinal cord in 30, and the brain stem in nine. Forty-four patients had gross total resection and 14 had radical subtotal resection. Only six patients underwent postoperative irradiation or chemotherapy and, therefore, the outcome was generally related to surgery alone. Of the 58 gangliogliomas, 40 were classified as histological grade I, 16 were grade II, and two were grade III. The median follow-up period was 56 months. There were no operative deaths, and the operative morbidity rate was 5%, 37%, and 33% for cerebral hemisphere, spinal cord, and brain-stem gangliogliomas, respectively. The 5-year actuarial survival rates for cerebral hemisphere, spinal cord, and brain-stem gangliogliomas were 93%, 84%, and 73%, respectively (p = 0.7). The event-free survival rate at 5 years was 95% for cerebral hemisphere gangliogliomas and 36% for spinal cord gangliogliomas (p < 0.05); for brain-stem gangliogliomas the event-free survival rate at 3 years was 53% (p < 0.05). Neurological function at recent follow-up evaluation was stable or improved in 81% of patients. Multivariate analysis (Cox linear regression) revealed tumor location to be the only variable predictive of outcome, with spinal cord and brain-stem gangliogliomas having a 3.5- and 5-fold increased relative risk of recurrence, respectively, compared to cerebral hemisphere gangliogliomas. Histological grade was not predictive of outcome, although in each location there was a trend for higher-grade tumors to have a shorter time to recurrence. It is concluded that radical surgery leads to long-term survival of patients with gangliogliomas, regardless of location, and adjuvant therapy can probably be reserved for special cases.

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Adam S. Wu, Mariana E. Witgert, Frederick F. Lang, Lianchun Xiao, B. Nebiyou Bekele, Christina A. Meyers, David Ferson and Jeffrey S. Wefel


Insular gliomas can be resected with acceptable rates of neurological morbidity, but little is known with regard to impairment of higher-order neurocognitive functions. The frequency and functional impact of neurocognitive deficits in patients with gliomas has until recently been underappreciated. The authors therefore examined neurocognitive function in patients with insular gliomas and compared the findings in this group to those in a matched control group of patients with gliomas in nearby brain regions.


Thirty-three patients with WHO Grade II or III insular gliomas participated in neuropsychological evaluations before and after resection. To establish whether the pattern of neurocognitive performance was different from that of other patients with tumors in neighboring areas, patients with insular tumors were matched with control patients for age, educational level, preoperative Karnofsky Performance Scale score, tumor side, grade, and volume. The control group comprised patients in whom gliomas had been resected from frontal, temporal, and parietal areas near the insula. Baseline pre- and postoperative neurocognitive test results were compared between and within groups.


Preoperative neurocognitive impairment was common in both insular and control groups. Patients with insular tumors had significantly worse preoperative performance on naming tests. In both groups, postoperative decline occurred in most neurocognitive domains. There were no statistically significant differences between patients in the insular and control groups with regard to rates of postoperative decline on any test. However, there were trends suggesting differential cognitive performance postoperatively, because patients with insular tumors were more likely to experience greater decline in learning and memory. Neurological morbidity was similar to prior rates reported in the literature.


Few statistically significant differences in cognitive function were observed between patients in the insular and control groups at either the pre- or postoperative evaluation, although there was a trend for patients with insular tumors to exhibit greater postoperative decline in learning and memory. Although technically more challenging, surgery for insular region glioma appears feasible without profound neurological or cognitive morbidity for many patients.