Spinal metastases most commonly affect the vertebral bodies of the spinal column, and spinal cord compression is an indication for surgery. Commonly, an open posterior approach is employed to perform a transpedicular costotransversectomy or lateral extracavitary corpectomy. Because of the short life expectancies in patients with metastatic spinal disease, decreasing the morbidity of surgical treatment and recovery time is critical. One potential approach to decreasing morbidity is utilizing minimally invasive surgery (MIS). Although significant advances have been made in MIS of the spine, data supporting the utility of MIS are still emerging. This study compared outcomes of patients who underwent mini-open versus traditional open transpedicular corpectomy for spinal metastases in the thoracic spine.
A consecutive cohort from 2006 to 2013 of 49 adult patients who underwent thoracic transpedicular corpectomies for spinal metastases was retrospectively identified. Patients were categorized into one of 2 groups: open surgery and mini-open surgery. Mini-open transpedicular corpectomy was performed with a midline facial incision over only the corpectomy level of interest and percutaneous instrumentation above and below that level. The open procedure consisted of a traditional posterior transpedicular corpectomy. Chi-square test, 2-tailed t-test, and ANOVA models were employed to compare perioperative and follow-up outcomes between the 2 groups.
In the analysis, there were 21 patients who had mini-open surgery and 28 patients who had open surgery. The mean age was 57.9 years, and 59.2% were male. The tumor types encountered were lung (18.3%), renal/bladder (16.3%), breast (14.3%), hematological (14.3%), gastrointestinal tract (10.2%), prostate (8.2%), melanoma (4.1%), and other/unknown (14.3%). There were no significant intergroup differences in demographics, comorbidities, neurological status (American Spinal Injury Association [ASIA] grade), number of corpectomies performed, and number of levels instrumented. The open group had a mean operative time of 413.6 minutes, and the mini-open group had a mean operative time of 452.4 minutes (p = 0.329). Compared with the open group, the mini-open group had significantly less blood loss (917.7 ml vs 1697.3 ml, p = 0.019) and a significantly shorter hospital stay (7.4 days vs 11.4 days, p = 0.001). There was a trend toward a lower perioperative complication rate in the mini-open group (9.5%) compared with the open group (21.4%), but this was not statistically significant (p = 0.265). At follow-up, there were no significant differences in ASIA grade (p = 0.342), complication rate after the 30-day postoperative period (p = 0.999), or need for surgical revision (p = 0.803). The open approach had a higher overall infection rate of 17.9% compared with that in the mini-open approach of 9.5%, but this was not statistically significant (p = 0.409).
The mini-open transpedicular corpectomy is associated with less blood loss and shorter hospital stay compared with open transpedicular corpectomy. The mini-open corpectomy also trended toward lower infection and complication rates, but these did not reach statistical significance.