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William C. Newman, Anubhav G. Amin, Jemma Villavieja, Ilya Laufer, Mark H. Bilsky, and Ori Barzilai

OBJECTIVE

High-grade metastatic epidural spinal cord compression from radioresistant tumor histologies is often treated with separation surgery and adjuvant stereotactic body radiation therapy. Historically, long-segment fixation is performed during separation surgery with posterior transpedicular fixation of a minimum of 2 spinal levels superior and inferior to the decompression. Previous experience with minimal access surgery techniques and percutaneous stabilization have highlighted reduced morbidity as an advantage to the use of shorter fixation constructs. Cement augmentation of pedicle screws is an attractive option for enhanced stabilization while performing shorter fixation. Herein, the authors describe their initial experience of open separation surgery using short-segment cement-augmented pedicle screw fixation for spinal reconstruction.

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective chart review of patients undergoing open (i.e., nonpercutaneous, minimal access surgery) separation surgery for high-grade epidural spinal cord compression using cement-augmented pedicle screws at single levels adjacent to the decompression level(s). Patient demographics, treatment data, operative complications, and short-term radiographic outcomes were evaluated.

RESULTS

Overall, 44 patients met inclusion criteria with radiographic follow-up at a mean of 8.5 months. Involved levels included 19 thoracic, 5 thoracolumbar, and 20 lumbar. Cement augmentation through fenestrated pedicle screws was performed in 30 patients, and a vertebroplasty-type approach was used in the remaining 14 patients to augment screw purchase. One (2%) patient required an operative revision for a hardware complication. Three (7%) nonoperative radiographic hardware complications occurred, including 1 pathologic fracture at the index level causing progressive kyphosis and 2 incidences of haloing around a single screw. There were 2 wound complications that were managed conservatively without operative intervention. No cement-related complications occurred.

CONCLUSIONS

Open posterolateral decompression utilizing short-segment cement-augmented pedicle screws is a viable alternative to long-segment instrumentation for reconstruction following separation surgery for metastatic spine tumors. Studies with longer follow-up are needed to determine the rates of delayed complications and the durability of these outcomes.

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Vikram B. Chakravarthy, Ibrahim Hussain, Ilya Laufer, Jacob L. Goldberg, Anne S. Reiner, Jemma Villavieja, William Christopher Newman, Ori Barzilai, and Mark Bilsky

OBJECTIVE

The cervicothoracic junction (CTJ) is a challenging region to stabilize after tumor resection for metastatic spine disease. The objective of this study was to describe the outcomes of patients who underwent posterolateral decompression and instrumented fusion (i.e., separation surgery across the CTJ for instability due to metastatic disease).

METHODS

The authors performed a single-institution retrospective study of a prospectively collected cohort of patients who underwent single-approach posterior decompression and instrumented fusion across the CTJ for metastatic spine disease between 2011 and 2018. Adult patients (≥ 18 years old) who presented with mechanical instability, myelopathy, and radiculopathy secondary to metastatic epidural spinal cord compression (MESCC) of the CTJ (C7–T1) from 2011 to 2018 were included.

RESULTS

Seventy-nine patients were included, with a mean age of 62.1 years. The most common primary malignancies were non–small cell lung (n = 17), renal cell (11), and prostate (8) carcinoma. The median number of levels decompressed and construct length were 3 and 7, respectively. The average operative time, blood loss, and length of stay were 179.2 minutes, 600.5 ml, and 7.7 days, respectively. Overall, 58 patients received adjuvant radiation, and median dose, fractions, and time from surgery were 27 Gy, 3 fractions, and 20 days, respectively. All patients underwent lateral mass and pedicle screw instrumentation. Forty-nine patients had tapered rods (4.0/5.5 mm or 3.5/5.5 mm), 29 had fixed-diameter rods (3.5 mm or 4.0 mm), and 1 had both. Ten patients required anterior reconstruction with poly-methyl-methacrylate. The overall complication rate was 18.8% (6 patients with wound-related complications, 7 with hardware-related complications, 1 with both, and 1 with other). For the 8 patients (10%) with hardware failure, 7 had tapered rods, all 8 had cervical screw pullout, and 1 patient also experienced rod/screw fracture. The average time to hardware failure was 146.8 days. The 2-year cumulative incidence rate of hardware failure was 11.1% (95% CI 3.7%–18.5%). There were 55 deceased patients, and the median (95% CI) overall survival period was 7.97 (5.79–12.60) months. For survivors, the median (range) follow-up was 12.94 (1.94–71.80) months.

CONCLUSIONS

Instrumented fusion across the CTJ demonstrated an 18.8% rate of postoperative complications and an 11% overall 2-year rate of hardware failure in patients who underwent metastatic epidural tumor decompression and stabilization.