The surgical management of sacral tumors requires partial or total sacrectomy and spinopelvic reconstruction. These lesions present a great surgical challenge, because most spine surgeons are unfamiliar with the techniques required for these procedures. The authors describe a step-by-step operative technique and provide several illustrations.
Total sacrectomy is performed by sequential anterior and posterior approaches that involve a rectus abdominis pull-through pedicle flap reconstruction. The anterior procedure is an intraperitoneal approach used to expose the anterior aspect of the tumor, to ligate the main tumor vessels, and to conduct an anterior partial sacrectomy. After this, the rectus abdominis myocutaneous flap, based on the inferior epigastric vessel, is prepared, and a posterior sacrectomy is performed, dividing all sacral nerve roots in the thecal sac. After complete en bloc extirpation of the sacrum with tumor, spinopelvic reconstruction and closure with a myocutaneous flap are performed. Spinopelvic reconstruction is undertaken using a modified Galveston technique or double iliac screw fixation combined with posterior lumbar segmental fixation. These provide a long lever arm within the ilium to counteract the forces exerted by the lumbar spine.
Understanding the nature of the disease as well as the biomechanics of the lumbosacral pelvic area and spinopelvic fixation will help surgeons select the appropriate treatment for sacral tumors.