Hemangioblastomas are benign, highly vascularized tumors that can occur sporadically or as part of von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease. Traditionally, spinal hemangioblastomas have been surgically treated via an open approach. In recent years, however, minimally invasive techniques using tubular retractors have been increasingly applied in spine surgery. Such procedures involve less tissue trauma but are also particularly demanding for the surgeon, especially in cases of highly vascular tumors such as hemangioblastomas. The object of this study was to evaluate the safety and efficacy of minimally invasive resection of selected spinal hemangioblastomas.
The authors conducted a retrospective single-center study of all patients who, between January 2010 and January 2018, had been operated on for spinal hemangioblastoma via a minimally invasive approach performed at the surgeon’s discretion. The surgical technique is described and the pre- and postoperative neurological and imaging results were analyzed descriptively. The primary outcome was the postoperative compared to preoperative neurological condition (McCormick grade). The secondary outcomes were the extent of tumor resection and postoperative complications.
Eighteen patients, 12 female and 6 male, harboring a total of 19 spinal hemangioblastomas underwent surgery in the study period. Seventeen patients had stable neurological findings with stable or improved McCormick grades (94.5%) at a mean of 4.3 months after surgery. One (5.5%) of the 18 patients developed progressive neurological symptoms with a worsened McCormick grade that did not improve in the long-term follow-up. Sixteen of the 18 patients had VHL disease, whereas 2 patients had sporadic spinal hemangioblastomas. In all patients, postoperative MRI showed complete resection of the tumors. No other surgery-related perioperative or postoperative complications were recorded.
A minimally invasive approach for the resection of selected spinal hemangioblastomas is safe and allows complete tumor resection with good clinical results in experienced hands.