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  • Author or Editor: Dima Abi-Said x
  • Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine x
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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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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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Julie E. York, Rasim H. Berk, Gregory N. Fuller, Jasti S. Rao, Dima Abi-Said, David M. Wildrick and Ziya L. Gokaslan

Object. Primary chondrosarcoma of the spine is extremely rare. During the last 43 years only 21 patients with this disease were registered at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. The purpose of this study was to examine the demographic characteristics, treatments, and outcomes of this set of patients.

Methods. Medical records for 21 patients were reviewed. Age, sex, race, clinical presentation, tumor histology, tumor location in the spinal column, treatments, surgical details, and response to treatment were recorded. Surgical procedures were categorized as either gross-total resection or subtotal excision of tumor. Neurological function was assessed using Frankel's functional classification. Time to recurrence and survival analyses were performed using the Kaplan—Meier method. The median age of patients was 51 years, with fairly equal gender representation. Eighteen patients underwent at least one surgical procedure for a total of 28 surgical procedures: seven radical resections and 21 subtotal excisions. Radiation therapy was used in conjunction with 10 of the 28 surgical procedures. The median Kaplan—Meier estimate of overall survival for the entire group was 6 years (range 6 months–17 years). Tumors recurred after 18 of the 28 procedures. Kaplan—Meier analysis revealed a statistically significant difference in the per-procedure disease-free interval after gross-total resection relative to subtotal excision (exact log rank 3.39; p = 0.04). The addition of radiation therapy prolonged the median disease-free interval from 16 to 44 months, although this was not statistically significant (exact log rank 2.63; p = 0.16).

Conclusions. Our results suggest that gross-total resection of the chondrosarcoma provides the best chance for prolonging the disease-free interval in patients. Subtotal excision should be avoided whenever possible. Addition of radiation therapy does not appear to lengthen significantly the disease-free interval in this patient population.

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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.