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Jennifer E. Kim, John Pang, Joani M. Christensen, Devin Coon, Patricia L. Zadnik, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Ziya L. Gokaslan, Ali Bydon, Daniel M. Sciubba, Timothy Witham, Richard J. Redett and Justin M. Sacks


Total en bloc sacrectomy is a dramatic procedure that results in extensive sacral defects. The authors present a series of patients who underwent flap reconstruction after total sacrectomy, report clinical outcomes, and provide a treatment algorithm to guide surgical care of this unique patient population.


After institutional review board approval, data were collected for all patients who underwent total sacrectomy between 2002 and 2012 at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. Variables included demographic data, medical history, tumor characteristics, surgical details, postoperative complications, and clinical outcomes. All subtotal sacrectomies were excluded.


Between 2002 and 2012, 9 patients underwent total sacrectomy with flap reconstruction. Diagnoses included chordoma (n = 5), osteoblastoma (n = 1), sarcoma (n = 2), and metastatic colon cancer (n = 1). Six patients received gluteus maximus (GM) flaps with a prosthetic rectal sling following a single-stage, posterior sacrectomy. Four required additional paraspinous muscle (PSM) or pedicled latissimus dorsi (LD) fasciocutaneous flaps. Three patients underwent multistage sacrectomy with an anterior-posterior approach, 2 of whom received pedicled vertical rectus abdominis myocutaneous (VRAM) flaps, and 1 of whom received local GM, LD, and PSM flaps. Flap complications included dehiscence (n = 4) and infection (n = 1). During the 1st year of follow-up, 2 of 9 patients (22%) were able to ambulate with an assistive device by the 1st postoperative month, and 6 of 9 (67%) were ambulatory with a walker by the 3rd postoperative month. By postoperative Month 12, 5 of 9 patients (56%)—or 5 of 5 patients not lost to follow-up (100%)—were able to able to ambulate independently.


The authors' experience suggests that the GM and pedicled VRAM flaps are reliable options for softtissue reconstruction of total sacrectomy defects. For posterior-only operations, GM flaps with or without a prosthetic rectal sling are generally used. For multistage operations including a laparotomy, the authors consider the pedicled VRAM flap to be the gold standard for simultaneous reconstruction of the pelvic diaphragm and obliteration of dead space.

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Hannah M. Carl, A. Karim Ahmed, Nancy Abu-Bonsrah, Rafael De la Garza Ramos, Eric W. Sankey, Zachary Pennington, Ali Bydon, Timothy F. Witham, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Ziya L. Gokaslan, Justin M. Sacks, C. Rory Goodwin and Daniel M. Sciubba


Resection of metastatic spine tumors can improve patients’ quality of life by addressing pain or neurological compromise. However, resections are often complicated by wound dehiscence, infection, instrumentation failures, and the need for reoperation. Moreover, when reoperations are needed, the most common indication is surgical site infection and wound breakdown. In turn, wound reoperations increase morbidity as well as the length and cost of hospitalization. The aim of this study was to examine perioperative risk factors associated with increased rate of wound reoperations after metastatic spine tumor resection.


A retrospective study of patients at a single institution who underwent metastatic spine tumor resection between 2003 and 2013 was conducted. Factors with a p value < 0.200 in a univariate analysis were included in the multivariate model.


A total of 159 patients were included in this study. Karnofsky Performance Scale score > 70, smoking status, hypertension, thromboembolic events, hyperlipidemia, increasing number of vertebral levels, and posterior approach were included in the multivariate analysis. Thromboembolic events (95% CI 1.19–48.5, p = 0.032) and number of levels involved were independently associated with increased wound reoperation rates in the multivariate model. For each additional spinal level involved, the risk for wound reoperations increased by 21% (95% CI 1.03–1.43, p = 0.018).


Although wound complications and subsequent reoperations are potential risks for all patients with metastatic spine tumor, due to adjuvant radiotherapy and other medical comorbidities, this study identified patients with thromboembolic events or those requiring a larger incision as being at the highest risk. Measures intended to decrease the occurrence of perioperative venous thromboembolism and to improve wound care, especially for long incisions, may decrease wound-related revision surgeries in this vulnerable group of patients.