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Ziya L. Gokaslan, Marvin M. Romsdahl, Stephen S. Kroll, Garrett L. Walsh, Theresa A. Gillis, David M. Wildrick and Milam E. Leavens

Although radical resection is the best treatment for malignant sacral tumors, total sacrectomy for such tumors has been performed in only a few instances. Total sacral resection requires reconstruction of the pelvic ring plus establishment of a bilateral union between the lumbar spine and iliac bone. This technique is illustrated in two patients harboring large, painful, sacral giant-cell tumors that were unresponsive to prior treatment. These patients were treated with complete en bloc resection of the sacrum and complex iliolumbar reconstruction/stabilization and fusion. Surgery was performed in two stages, the first consisting of a midline celiotomy, dissection of visceral/neural structures, and ligation of internal iliac vessels, followed by an anterior L5-S1 discectomy. The second stage consisted of mobilization of an inferiorly based myocutaneous rectus abdominis pedicle flap for wound closure, followed by an L-5 laminectomy, bilateral L-5 foraminotomy, ligation of the thecal sac, division of sacral nerve roots, and transection of the ilia lateral to the tumor and sacroiliac joints. Placement of the instrumentation required segmental fixation of the lumbar spine from L-3 down by means of pedicle screws and the establishment of a bilateral liaison between the lumbar spine and the ilia by using the Galveston L-rod technique. The pelvic ring was then reestablished by means of a threaded rod connecting left and right ilia. Both autologous (posterior iliac crest) and allograft bone were used for fusion, and a tibial allograft strut was placed between the remaining ilia. The patients were immobilized for 8 weeks postoperatively and underwent progressive rehabilitation. At the 1-year follow-up review, one patient could walk unassisted, and the other ambulated independently using a cane. Both patients controlled bowel function satisfactorily with laxatives and diet and could maintain continence but required self-catheterization for bladder emptying. The authors conclude that in selected patients, total sacrectomy represents an acceptable surgical procedure that can offer not only effective local pain control, but also a potential cure, while preserving satisfactory ambulatory capacity and neurological function.

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Ziya L. Gokaslan, Marvin M. Romsdahl, Stephen S. Kroll, Garrett L. Walsh, Theresa A. Gillis, David M. Wildrick and Milam E. Leavens

✓ Although radical resection is the best treatment for malignant sacral tumors, total sacrectomy for such tumors has been performed in only a few instances. Total sacral resection requires reconstruction of the pelvic ring plus establishment of a bilateral union between the lumbar spine and iliac bone. This technique is illustrated in two patients harboring large, painful, sacral giant-cell tumors that were unresponsive to prior treatment. These patients were treated with complete en bloc resection of the sacrum and complex iliolumbar reconstruction/stabilization and fusion. Surgery was performed in two stages, the first consisting of a midline celiotomy, dissection of visceral/neural structures, and ligation of internal iliac vessels, followed by an anterior L5—S1 discectomy. The second stage consisted of mobilization of an inferiorly based myocutaneous rectus abdominis pedicle flap for wound closure, followed by an L-5 laminectomy, bilateral L-5 foraminotomy, ligation of the thecal sac, division of sacral nerve roots, and transection of the ilia lateral to the tumor and sacroiliac joints. Placement of the instrumentation required segmental fixation of the lumbar spine from L-3 down by means of pedicle screws and the establishment of a bilateral liaison between the lumbar spine and the ilia by using the Galveston L-rod technique. The pelvic ring was then reestablished by means of a threaded rod connecting left and right ilia. Both autologous (posterior iliac crest) and allograft bone were used for fusion, and a tibial allograft strut was placed between the remaining ilia. The patients were immobilized for 8 weeks postoperatively and underwent progressive rehabilitation. At the 1-year follow-up review, one patient could walk unassisted, and the other ambulated independently using a cane. Both patients controlled bowel function satisfactorily with laxatives and diet and could maintain continence but required self-catheterization for bladder emptying. The authors conclude that in selected patients, total sacrectomy represents an acceptable surgical procedure that can offer not only effective local pain control, but also a potential cure, while preserving satisfactory ambulatory capacity and neurological function.

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Ziya L. Gokaslan, Julie E. York, Garrett L. Walsh, Ian E. McCutcheon, Frederick F. Lang, Joe B. Putnam Jr., David M. Wildrick, Stephen G. Swisher, Dima Abi-Said and Raymond Sawaya

Anterior approaches to the spine for the treatment of spinal tumors have gained acceptance; however, in most published reports, patients with primary, metastatic, or chest wall tumors involving cervical, thoracic, or lumbar regions of the spine are combined. The purpose of this study was to provide a clear perspective of results that can be expected in patients who undergo anterior vertebral body resection, reconstruction, and stabilization for spinal metastases that are limited to the thoracic region.

Outcome is presented for 72 patients with metastatic spinal tumors who were treated by transthoracic vertebrectomy at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. The predominant primary tumors included renal cancer in 19 patients, breast cancer in 10, melanoma or sarcoma in 10, and lung cancer in nine patients. The most common presenting symptoms were back pain, which occurred in 90% of patients, and lower-extremity weakness, which occurred in 64% of patients. All patients underwent transthoracic vertebrectomy, decompression, reconstruction with methylmethacrylate, and anterior fixation with locking plate and screw constructs. Supplemental posterior instrumentation was required in seven patients with disease involving the cervicothoracic or thoracolumbar junction, which was causing severe kyphosis. After surgery, pain improved in 60 of 65 patients. This improvement was found to be statistically significant (p < 0.001) based on visual analog scales and narcotic analgesic medication use. Thirty-five of the 46 patients who presented with neurological dysfunction improved significantly (p < 0.001) following the procedure. Thirty-three patients had weakness but could ambulate preoperatively. Seventeen of these 33 regained normal strength, 15 patients continued to have weakness, and one patient was neurologically worse postoperatively. Of the 13 preoperatively nonambulatory patients, 10 could walk after surgery and three were still unable to walk but showed improved motor function. Twenty-one patients had complications ranging from minor atelectasis to pulmonary embolism. The 30-day mortality rate was 3%. The 1-year survival rate for the entire study population was 62%.

These results suggest that transthoracic vertebrectomy and spinal stabilization can improve the quality of life considerably in cancer patients with spinal metastasis by restoring or preserving ambulation and by controlling intractable spinal pain with acceptable rates of morbidity and mortality.

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Ziya L. Gokaslan, Julie E. York, Garrett L. Walsh, Ian E. McCutcheon, Frederick F. Lang, Joe B. Putnam Jr., David M. Wildrick, Stephen G. Swisher, Dima Abi-Said and Raymond Sawaya

Object. Anterior approaches to the spine for the treatment of spinal tumors have gained acceptance; however, in most published reports, patients with primary, metastatic, or chest wall tumors involving cervical, thoracic, or lumbar regions of the spine are combined. The purpose of this study was to provide a clear perspective of results that can be expected in patients who undergo anterior vertebral body resection, reconstruction, and stabilization for spinal metastases that are limited to the thoracic region.

Methods. Outcome is presented for 72 patients with metastatic spinal tumors who were treated by transthoracic vertebrectomy at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. The predominant primary tumors included renal cancer in 19 patients, breast cancer in 10, melanoma or sarcoma in 10, and lung cancer in nine patients. The most common presenting symptoms were back pain, which occurred in 90% of patients, and lower-extremity weakness, which occurred in 64% of patients. All patients underwent transthoracic vertebrectomy, decompression, reconstruction with methylmethacrylate, and anterior fixation with locking plate and screw constructs. Supplemental posterior instrumentation was required in seven patients with disease involving the cervicothoracic or thoracolumbar junction, which was causing severe kyphosis. After surgery, pain improved in 60 of 65 patients. This improvement was found to be statistically significant (p < 0.001) based on visual analog scales and narcotic analgesic medication use. Thirty-five of the 46 patients who presented with neurological dysfunction improved significantly (p < 0.001) following the procedure. Thirty-three patients had weakness but could ambulate preoperatively. Seventeen of these 33 regained normal strength, 15 patients continued to have weakness, and one patient was neurologically worse postoperatively. Of the 13 preoperatively nonambulatory patients, 10 could walk after surgery and three were still unable to walk but showed improved motor function. Twenty-one patients had complications ranging from minor atelectasis to pulmonary embolism. The 30-day mortality rate was 3%. The 1-year survival rate for the entire study population was 62%.

Conclusions. These results suggest that transthoracic vertebrectomy and spinal stabilization can improve the quality of life considerably in cancer patients with spinal metastasis by restoring or preserving ambulation and by controlling intractable spinal pain with acceptable rates of morbidity and mortality.

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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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Ian E. McCutcheon, Keith E. Friend, Tammy M. Gerdes, Bing-Mei Zhang, David M. Wildrick and Gregory N. Fuller

Object. Although human meningioma cells have been heterotopically implanted in nude mice, introducing these cells into intracranial locations seems more likely to reproduce normal patterns of tumor growth. To provide an orthotopic xenograft model of meningioma, the authors implanted a controlled quantity of meningioma cells at subdural and intracerebral sites in athymic mice.

Methods. Malignant (one tumor), atypical (two tumors), or benign (three tumors) meningiomas were placed into primary cell cultures. Cells (106/10 µl) from these cultures and from an immortalized malignant meningioma cell line, IOMM-Lee, were injected with stereotactic guidance into the frontal white matter or subdural space of athymic mice. Survival curves were plotted for mice receiving tumor cells of each histological type and according to injection site. Other mice were killed at intervals and their heads were sectioned whole. Hematoxylin and eosin staining of these sections revealed the extent of tumor growth.

Conclusions. The median length of survival for mice with malignant, atypical, or benign tumors was 19, 42, or longer than 84 days, respectively. Atypical and malignant tumors were invasive, but did not metastasize extracranially. Malignant tumors uniformly showed leptomeningeal dissemination and those implanted intracerebrally grew locally and spread noncontiguously to the ventricles, choroid plexus, convexities, and skull base. Tumors formed in only 50% of mice injected with benign meningioma cells, whereas injection of more aggressive cells was uniformly successful at tumor production. The three types of human meningiomas grown intracranially in athymic mice maintained their relative positions in the spectrum of malignancy. However, atypical meningiomas became more aggressive after xenografting and acquired malignant features, implying that there had been immune constraint in the original host. Tumor cells injected into brain parenchyma migrated to more optimal environments and grew best there. This model provides insights into the biology of meningiomas and may be useful for testing new therapies.

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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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Marcos V. C. Maldaun, Dima Suki, Frederick F. Lang, Sujit Prabhu, Weiming Shi, Gregory N. Fuller, David M. Wildrick and Raymond Sawaya

Object. The goal of this study was to determine whether the presence of a large tumor cyst was associated with improved outcome in patients undergoing surgery for newly diagnosed glioblastomas multiforme (GBMs) by comparing these patients with a matched cohort of patients with noncystic GBMs in clinical features, tumor imaging characteristics, survival, and time to tumor recurrence after surgery.

Methods. A retrospective analysis was conducted in 22 patients by using imaging information and chart reviews of operative reports of GBMs with large cysts (≥ 50% of tumor volume) at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center between 1993 and 2002. Clinical and neurosurgical outcomes and recurrence rates were studied. A statistical comparison was made with a matching cohort of 22 patients with noncystic GBMs.

No significant differences in clinical variables were found between the cohort with cystic GBMs and the matched cohort with noncystic GBMs. To avoid bias in preoperative assessment of tumor volume, the tumor burden was compared in patients whose tumors had cysts (excluding the cystic mass) and in patients whose tumors did not contain cysts. There was no statistically significant difference between the two groups (p = 0.8). In patients with cystic GBMs the median survival time after surgery was 18.2 months (95% confidence interval [CI] 11.9–24.5 months) and at 2 years 43% of the patients were still alive. In comparison, in patients with noncystic GBMs, the median survival time was 14.3 months (95% CI 12.1–16.4 months) and only 16% of patients were alive at 2 years. The median time to tumor recurrence was 7.6 months (95% CI 0.01–18 months) in patients harboring cystic GBMs and 4.2 months (95% CI 1.8–6.6 months) in the matched cohort (log-rank test, p = 0.04). In the cystic GBM group, no recurrence was observed in 53% of patients at 6 months, 45% at 1 year, and 38% at 2 years after surgery, whereas the corresponding numbers for the noncystic group were 36, 14, and 9%, respectively.

Conclusions. The results indicate that patients harboring a GBM that contains a large cyst survive longer and have a longer time to recurrence than those who lack such a cyst. This is the first such observation in the literature.

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Wael Hassaneen, Dima Suki, Abhijit L. Salaskar, David M. Wildrick, Frederick F. Lang, Gregory N. Fuller and Raymond Sawaya

Object

The aim of this study was to review the outcome of patients undergoing surgery for treatment of lateral-ventricle metastases.

Methods

Imaging information and chart reviews of operative reports were used to conduct a retrospective analysis in 29 patients who underwent resection of lateral-ventricle metastases at the authors' institution between 1993 and 2007. Clinical and neurosurgical outcomes and recurrence rates were studied.

Results

The mean patient age was 56 years (range 20–69 years); 66% of patients were male. Single intraventricular metastases occurred in 69% of patients, and 55% of them had systemic metastases. The 30-day postoperative mortality rate was 7%. There was intracerebral tumor recurrence in 41% of patients, with 1 patient undergoing a second operation for this. The median postoperative survival duration for 28 patients (excluding 1 patient with preoperative leptomeningeal disease) was 11.7 months; the 3- and 5-year survival rates were 17 and 11%, respectively. Univariate analysis identified factors significantly influencing survival, including the preoperative Karnofsky Performance Scale (KPS) score (p = 0.02), the number of cerebral metastases (p = 0.02), the presence of primary renal cell carcinoma (RCC) (p = 0.02), and the resection method (en bloc vs piecemeal; p = 0.05). The presence of extracranial metastases did not significantly influence survival. Multivariate analysis showed that the preoperative KPS score (p = 0.002), the presence of primary RCC (p = 0.039), and the resection method (en bloc vs piecemeal; p = 0.008) correlated significantly with survival time.

Conclusions

Surgery is an important component in the management of intraventricular metastases. To the authors' knowledge, this is the first study focusing totally on resection of lateral-ventricle metastases. The authors found that patients with primary RCC, those with a favorable preoperative KPS score, and those who underwent en bloc resection had a better outcome than others.

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Akash J. Patel, Dima Suki, Mustafa Aziz Hatiboglu, Hiba Abouassi, Weiming Shi, David M. Wildrick, Frederick F. Lang and Raymond Sawaya

Object

Local recurrence (LR) of a resected brain metastasis occurs in up to 46% of patients. Postoperative whole-brain radiation therapy (WBRT) reduces that incidence. To isolate factors associated with the risk of LR after resection, the authors only studied patients who did not receive adjuvant radiotherapy.

Methods

The authors reviewed data from 570 cases involving patients who had undergone resection of a previously untreated single brain metastasis at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center between 1993 and 2006 without receiving postoperative WBRT. All tumors were measured preoperatively on MR images. The resection method (en bloc resection [EBR] or piecemeal resection [PMR]) was noted at the time of surgery. Predictors of LR were assessed using the Cox proportional hazards model.

Results

The median patient age was 58 years, 55% were male, and 88% had a Karnofsky Performance Scale Score ≥ 80. The most common primary cancers were those of the lung (28%), skin (melanoma, 21%), kidney (19%), and breast (11%). Piecemeal resection was performed in 201 patients (35%) and EBR in 369 (65%). Local recurrence developed in 84 patients (15%). The histological type of the primary cancer did not significantly predict LR; however, 7 of 22 patients with sarcoma developed LR (p = 0.16). The authors identified 2 variables that increased the risk of LR. Undergoing PMR carried a significantly higher LR risk than EBR (crude hazard ratio [HR] 1.7, 95% CI 1.1–2.6, p = 0.03). Tumors exceeding the median volume (9.7 cm3) had a significantly higher LR risk than those that were < 9.7 cm3 (crude HR 1.7; 95% CI 1.1–2.6; p = 0.02). In the multivariate analysis, small tumors removed by EBR had a significantly lower LR risk.

Conclusions

The LR risk of a single brain metastasis is influenced by biological factors (such as tumor volume) and treatments (such as the resection method). Early administration of postoperative WBRT may be particularly warranted when such negative tumor-related prognostic factors are noted or when treatment-related ones such as PMR are unavoidable.