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  • Author or Editor: Ian E. McCutcheon 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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Ben A. Strickland, Ian E. McCutcheon, Indro Chakrabarti, Laurence D. Rhines and Jeffrey S. Weinberg

OBJECTIVE

Metastasis to the spinal cord is rare, and optimal management of this disease is unclear. The authors investigated this issue by analyzing the results of surgical treatment of spinal intramedullary metastasis (IM) at a major cancer center.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed the medical records of 13 patients who underwent surgery for IM. Patients had renal cell carcinoma (n = 4), breast carcinoma (n = 3), melanoma (n = 2), non–small cell lung cancer (n = 1), sarcoma (n = 1), adenoid cystic carcinoma (n = 1), and cervical cancer (n = 1). Cerebrospinal fluid was collected before surgery in 11 patients, and was negative for malignant cells, as was MRI of the neuraxis. Eleven patients presented with neurological function equivalent to Frankel Grade D.

RESULTS

Radiographic gross-total resection was achieved in 9 patients, and tumor eventually recurred locally in 3 of those 9 (33%). Leptomeningeal disease was diagnosed in 4 patients after surgery. In the immediate postoperative period, neurological function in 6 patients deteriorated to Frankel Grade C. At 2 months, only 2 patients remained at Grade C, 8 were at Grade D, and 1 had improved to Grade E. One patient developed postoperative hematoma resulting in Frankel Grade A. Radiotherapy was delivered in 8 patients postoperatively. The median survival after spine surgery was 6.5 months. Three patients are still living.

CONCLUSIONS

Surgery was performed as a last option to preserve neurological function in patients with IM. In most patients, neurological function returned during the immediate postoperative period and was preserved for the patients’ remaining lifetime. The data suggest that surgery can be effective in preventing further decline in selected patients with progressive neurological deficit.

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Michele R. Aizenberg, Benjamin D. Fox, Dima Suki, Ian E. McCutcheon, Ganesh Rao and Laurence D. Rhines

Object

Patients presenting with spinal metastases from unknown primary tumors (UPTs) are rare. The authors reviewed their surgical experience to evaluate outcomes and identify predictors of survival in these patients.

Methods

This study is a retrospective analysis of patients undergoing surgery for metastatic spine disease from UPTs between June 1993 and February 2007 at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

Results

Fifty-one patients undergoing 52 surgical procedures were identified. The median age at spine surgery was 60 years. The median survival from time of diagnosis was 15.8 months (95% CI 8.1–23.6) and it was 8.1 months (95% CI 1.6–14.7) from time of spine surgery. Postoperative neurological function (Frankel score) was the same or improved in 94% of patients. At presentation, 77% had extraspinal disease, which was associated with poorer survival (6.4 vs 18.1 months; p = 0.041). Multiple sites (vs a single site) of spine disease did not impact survival (12.7 vs 8.7 months; p = 0.50). Patients with noncervical spinal disease survived longer than those with cervical disease (11.8 vs 6.4 months, respectively; p = 0.029). Complete versus incomplete resection at index surgery had no impact on survival duration (p > 0.5) or local recurrence (p = 1.0). Identification of a primary cancer was achieved in 31% of patients.

Conclusions

This is the first reported surgical series of patients with an unknown source of spinal metastases. The authors found that multiple sites of spinal disease did not influence survival; however, the presence of extraspinal disease had a negative impact. The extent of resection had no effect on survival duration or local recurrence. With an overall median survival of 8.1 months following surgery, aggressive evaluation and treatment of patients with metastatic disease of the spine from an unknown primary source is warranted.

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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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Stephen J. Hentschel, Laurence D. Rhines, Franklin C. Wong, Ziya L. Gokaslan and Ian E. McCutcheon

Object. Little has been written about the appropriate diagnosis, investigation, and management of subarachnoid—pleural fistula (SPF). The authors report a series of patients with SPF that developed after resection of spinal tumor and discuss the diagnosis and treatment of this entity.

Methods. Between 1993 and 2002, nine patients with SPF observed after spinal surgery at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center were prospectively followed. In all patients the tumors were located in the thoracic region, and the most common entity was vertebral body metastasis (six cases), with renal cell carcinoma being the most common form of the disease (three cases). All but one patient underwent surgery via a transthoracic approach; in only one patient an intradural approach was performed. The most common presentation was overt cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leakage, manifesting as chest tube drainage (four cases) or as leakage through the wound (one case). A definitive diagnosis of SPF was established in four patients, with evidence of extraspinal leakage on an 111In-radionuclide CSF study. Although all patients initially underwent a trial of lumbar CSF drainage, all but one required open repair, including creation of intercostal muscle (three cases) and omental (one case) flaps.

Conclusions. After spinal surgery in which the thorax is entered, a diagnosis of SPF should be considered in any patient with abnormal chest tube output, persistent pleural effusion, or clinical evidence of intracranial hypotension. The diagnosis should be confirmed by performing a radionuclide-labeled CSF study. Definitive open repair is required in most cases and preferentially consists of a vascularized tissue graft, which is most easily obtained from an intercostal muscle flap.

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John R. Floyd II, Elizabeth R. Keeler, Elizabeth D. Euscher and Ian E. McCutcheon

Sciatic (catamenial) radiculopathy, waxing and waning with the menstrual cycle, is an uncommon condition typically caused by pelvic endometriosis affecting the lumbosacral plexus or proximal sciatic nerve. The authors describe a woman with catamenial sciatica caused by endometriosis affecting the sciatic nerve trunk in the upper thigh. Symptomatic with leg pain for 5 years, this patient developed gluteal atrophy and sensory loss and decreased strength in the L-5 dermatomyotome, a distribution confirmed by electromyography. Magnetic resonance imaging suggested thickening of the sciatic nerve at and distal to the sciatic notch. At operation the nerve showed extrinsic and intrinsic abnormality, proven to be endometriosis. Her symptoms improved, and she began gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist therapy for further suppression. This very unusual case shows that endometriosis can affect the sciatic nerve over a range of territory inside and outside the pelvis, and that surgery must be appropriately directed to avoid negative exploration. Surgical decompression achieves good relief of symptoms, and medical therapy also allows sustained suppression of this disease.

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Christopher M. McPherson, Dima Suki, Ian E. McCutcheon, Ziya L. Gokaslan, Laurence D. Rhines and Ehud Mendel

Object.

Metastastic lesions have been reported in 5 to 40% of patients with spinal and sacrococcygeal chordoma, but few contemporary series of chordoma metastastic disease exist in the literature. Additionally, the outcome in patients with chordoma-induced metastastic neoplasms remains unclear. The authors performed a retrospective review of the neurosurgery database at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston to determine the incidence of metastatic disease in a contemporary series of spinal and sacrococcygeal chordoma as well as to determine the outcomes.

Methods.

Thirty-seven patients underwent surgery for spinal and sacrococcygeal chordoma between June 1, 1993, and March 31, 2004. All records were reviewed, and appropriate statistical analyses were used to compare patient data for preoperative characteristics, treatments, and outcomes.

The authors identified seven patients (19%) in whom metastatic disease developed; in three the disease had metastasized to the lungs only, in two to the lungs and liver, and in two to distant locations in the spine. There were no significant differences in age, sex, tumor location, or history of radiation treatments between patients with and those without metastases. In cases with local recurrent tumors, metastastic disease was more likely to develop than in those without recurrence (28 compared with 0%, respectively; p = 0.07). In two (12%) of 17 patients who underwent en bloc resection, metastatic disease developed, whereas it developed in five (25%) of 20 patients treated by curettage (p = 0.42). The median time from first surgery to the appearance of metastatic disease, as calculated using the Kaplan–Meier method, was 143.4 months (95% confidence interval [CI] 66.8–219.9). The median survival duration of patients with metastatic disease after the first surgery was 106 months (95% CI 55.7–155.7), and this did not differ significantly from that in patients in whom no metastases developed (p = 0.93).

Conclusions.

Spinal chordoma metastasized to other locations in 19% of the patients in this series. In patients with local disease recurrence, metastatic lesions are more likely to develop. Metastatic lesions were shown to be aggressive in some cases. Surgery and chemotherapy can play a role in controlling metastatic disease.

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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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Scott L. Zuckerman, Ganesh Rao, Laurence D. Rhines, Ian E. McCutcheon, Richard G. Everson and Claudio E. Tatsui

OBJECTIVE

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.

METHODS

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.

RESULTS

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.

CONCLUSIONS

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.

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Ganesh Rao, Dima Suki, Indro Chakrabarti, Iman Feiz-Erfan, Milan G. Mody, Ian E. McCutcheon, Ziya Gokaslan, Shreyaskumar Patel and Laurence D. Rhines

Object

Sarcomas of the spine are a challenging problem due to their frequent and extensive involvement of multiple spinal segments and high recurrence rates. Gross-total resection to negative margins, with preservation of neurological function and palliation of pain, is the surgical goal and may be achieved using either intralesional resection or en bloc excision. The authors report outcomes of surgery for primary and metastatic sarcomas of the mobile spine in a large patient series.

Methods

A retrospective review of patients undergoing resection for sarcomas of the mobile spine between 1993 and 2005 was undertaken. Sarcomas were classified by histology study results and as either primary or metastatic. Details of the surgical approach, levels of involvement, and operative complications were recorded. Outcome measures included neurological function, palliation of pain, local recurrence, and overall survival.

Results

Eighty patients underwent 110 resections of either primary or metastatic sarcomas of the mobile spine. Twenty-nine lesions were primary sarcomas (36%) and 51 were metastatic sarcomas (64%). Intralesional resections were performed in 98 surgeries (89%) and en bloc resections were performed in 12 (11%). Median survival from surgery for all patients was 20.6 months. Median survival for patients with a primary sarcoma of the spine was 40.2 months and was 17.3 months for patients with a metastatic sarcoma. Predictors of improved survival included a chondrosarcoma histological type and a better preoperative functional status, whereas osteosarcoma and a high-grade tumor were negative influences on survival. Multivariate analysis showed that only a high-grade tumor was an independent predictor of shorter overall survival. American Spinal Injury Association scale grades were maintained or improved in 97% of patients postoperatively, and there was a significant decrease in pain scores postoperatively. No significant differences in survival or local recurrence rates between intralesional or en bloc resections for either primary or metastatic spine sarcomas were found.

Conclusions

Surgery for primary or metastatic sarcoma of the spine is associated with an improvement in neurological function and palliation of pain. The results of this study show a significant difference in patient survival for primary versus metastatic spine sarcomas. The results do not show a statistically significant benefit in survival or local recurrence rates for en bloc versus intralesional resections for either metastatic or primary sarcomas of the spine, but this may be due to the small number of patients undergoing en bloc resections.