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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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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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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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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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Franco DeMonte, Peyman Tabrizi, Scott A. Culpepper, Dima Abi-Said, Charles N. S. Soparkar and James R. Patrinely

Object

Partial resection of the orbital bones is not uncommon during the excision of anterior and anterolateral skull base tumors. Controversy exists regarding the need for and extent of the reconstruction necessary following this resection. The authors studied this factor in a series of patients.

Methods

The authors conducted a retrospective review of 56 patients in whom resection of 57 anterior or anterolateral skull base tumors and partial excision of the orbital bone were performed. Adverse ophthalmological outcomes were noted in 16 patients, in nine of whom adverse outcomes were believed to be directly related to resection of the orbital walls. Some degree of orbital reconstruction was performed during 23 of the 57 procedures. An adverse orbit-related outcome was strongly associated with resection of the orbital floor and with resection of two thirds or more of two or more orbital walls but not with the presence of absence or orbital reconstruction. The latter finding, however, is likely a function of selection bias.

Conclusions

In most patients after partial excision of the orbital bones, elaborate reconstruction is not necessary. Isolated medial and lateral orbital wall defects or combined superior and lateral orbital wall defects, especially in cases in which the periorbita is intact, probably do not require primary reconstruction. In cases of orbital floor defects, whether isolated or part of a multiple wall resection, primary reconstruction is recommended.

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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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Michel Lacroix, Dima Abi-Said, Daryl R. Fourney, Ziya L. Gokaslan, Weiming Shi, Franco DeMonte, Frederick F. Lang, Ian E. McCutcheon, Samuel J. Hassenbusch, Eric Holland, Kenneth Hess, Christopher Michael, Daniel Miller and Raymond Sawaya

Object. The extent of tumor resection that should be undertaken in patients with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) remains controversial. The purpose of this study was to identify significant independent predictors of survival in these patients and to determine whether the extent of resection was associated with increased survival time.

Methods. The authors retrospectively analyzed 416 consecutive patients with histologically proven GBM who underwent tumor resection at the authors' institution between June 1993 and June 1999. Volumetric data and other tumor characteristics identified on magnetic resonance (MR) imaging were collected prospectively.

Conclusions. Five independent predictors of survival were identified: age, Karnofsky Performance Scale (KPS) score, extent of resection, and the degree of necrosis and enhancement on preoperative MR imaging studies. A significant survival advantage was associated with resection of 98% or more of the tumor volume (median survival 13 months, 95% confidence interval [CI] 11.4–14.6 months), compared with 8.8 months (95% CI 7.4–10.2 months; p < 0.0001) for resections of less than 98%. Using an outcome scale ranging from 0 to 5 based on age, KPS score, and tumor necrosis on MR imaging, we observed significantly longer survival in patients with lower scores (1–3) who underwent aggressive resections, and a trend toward slightly longer survival was found in patients with higher scores (4–5). Gross-total tumor resection is associated with longer survival in patients with GBM, especially when other predictive variables are favorable.