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Dhiego C. A. Bastos, Rafael A. Vega, Jeffrey I. Traylor, Amol J. Ghia, Jing Li, Marilou Oro, Andrew J. Bishop, Debra N. Yeboa, Behrang Amini, Vinodh A. Kumar, Ganesh Rao, Laurence D. Rhines, and Claudio E. Tatsui

OBJECTIVE

The objective of this study was to present the results of a consecutive series of 120 cases treated with spinal laser interstitial thermal therapy (sLITT) to manage epidural spinal cord compression (ESCC) from metastatic tumors.

METHODS

The electronic records of patients treated from 2013 to 2019 were analyzed retrospectively. Data collected included demographic, pathology, clinical, operative, and imaging findings; degree of epidural compression before and after sLITT; length of hospital stay; complications; and duration before subsequent oncological treatment. Independent-sample t-tests were used to compare means between pre- and post-sLITT treatments. Survival was estimated by the Kaplan-Meier method. Multivariate logistic regression was used to analyze predictive factors for local recurrence and neurological complications.

RESULTS

There were 110 patients who underwent 120 sLITT procedures. Spinal levels treated included 5 cervical, 8 lumbar, and 107 thoracic. The pre-sLITT Frankel grades were E (91.7%), D (6.7%), and C (1.7%). The preoperative ESCC grade was 1c or higher in 92% of cases. Metastases were most common from renal cell carcinoma (39%), followed by non–small cell lung carcinoma (10.8%) and other tumors (35%). The most common location of ESCC was in the vertebral body (88.3%), followed by paraspinal/foraminal (7.5%) and posterior elements (4.2%). Adjuvant radiotherapy (spinal stereotactic radiosurgery or conventional external beam radiation therapy) was performed in 87 cases (72.5%), whereas 33 procedures (27.5%) were performed as salvage after radiotherapy options were exhausted. sLITT was performed without need for spinal stabilization in 87 cases (72.5%). Post-sLITT Frankel grades were E (85%), D (10%), C (4.2%), and B (0.8%); treatment was associated with a median decrease of 2 ESCC grades. The local control rate at 1 year was 81.7%. Local control failure occurred in 25 cases (20.8%). The median progression-free survival was not reached, and overall survival was 14 months. Tumor location in the paraspinal region and salvage treatment were independent predictors of local recurrence, with hazard ratios of 6.3 and 3.3, respectively (p = 0.01). Complications were observed in 22 cases (18.3%). sLITT procedures performed in the lumbar and cervical spine had hazard ratios for neurological complications of 15.4 and 17.1 (p < 0.01), respectively, relative to the thoracic spine.

CONCLUSIONS

sLITT is safe and provides effective local control for high-grade ESCC from vertebral metastases in the thoracic spine, particularly when combined with adjuvant radiotherapy. The authors propose considering sLITT as an alternative to open surgery in selected patients with spinal metastases.

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Claudio E. Tatsui, Telmo A. B. Belsuzarri, Marilou Oro, Laurence D. Rhines, Jing Li, Amol J. Ghia, Behrang Amini, Heron Espinoza, Paul D. Brown, and Ganesh Rao

OBJECTIVE

An emerging paradigm for treating patients with epidural spinal cord compression (ESCC) caused by metastatic tumors is surgical decompression and stabilization, followed by stereotactic radiosurgery. In the setting of rapid progressive disease, interruption or delay in return to systemic treatment can lead to a negative impact in overall survival. To overcome this limitation, the authors introduce the use of spinal laser interstitial thermotherapy (sLITT) in association with percutaneous spinal stabilization to facilitate a rapid return to oncological treatment.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed a consecutive series of patients with ESCC and spinal instability who were considered to be poor surgical candidates and instead were treated with sLITT and percutaneous spinal stabilization. Demographic data, Spine Instability Neoplastic Scale score, degree of epidural compression before and after the procedure, length of hospital stay, and time to return to oncological treatment were analyzed.

RESULTS

Eight patients were treated with thermal ablation and percutaneous spinal stabilization. The primary tumors included melanoma (n = 3), lung (n = 3), thyroid (n = 1), and renal cell carcinoma (n = 1). The median Karnofsky Performance Scale score before and after the procedure was 60, and the median hospital stay was 5 days (range 3–18 days). The median Spine Instability Neoplastic Scale score was 13 (range 12–16). The mean modified postoperative ESCC score (2.75 ± 0.37) was significantly lower than the preoperative score (4.5 ± 0.27) (Mann-Whitney test, p = 0.0044). The median time to return to oncological treatment was 5 days (range 3–10 days).

CONCLUSIONS

The authors present the first cohort of sLITT associated with a percutaneous spinal stabilization for the treatment of ESCC and spinal instability. This minimally invasive technique can allow a faster recovery without prejudice of adjuvant systemic treatment, with adequate local control and spinal stabilization.

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Dhiego Chaves de Almeida Bastos, Richard George Everson, Bruno Fernandes de Oliveira Santos, Ahmed Habib, Rafael A. Vega, Marilou Oro, Ganesh Rao, Jing Li, Amol J. Ghia, Andrew J. Bishop, Debra Nana Yeboa, Behrang Amini, Laurence D. Rhines, and Claudio Esteves Tatsui

OBJECTIVE

The proximity of the spinal cord to compressive metastatic lesions limits radiosurgical dosing. Open surgery is used to create safe margins around the spinal cord prior to spinal stereotactic radiosurgery (SSRS) but carries the risk of potential surgical morbidity and interruption of systemic oncological treatment. Spinal laser interstitial thermotherapy (SLITT) in conjunction with SSRS provides local control with less morbidity and a shorter interval to resume systemic treatment. The authors present a comparison between SLITT and open surgery in patients with metastatic thoracic epidural spinal cord compression to determine the advantages and disadvantages of each method.

METHODS

This is a matched-group design study comprising patients from a single institution with metastatic thoracic epidural spinal cord compression that was treated either with SLITT or open surgery. The two cohorts defined by the surgical treatment comprised patients with epidural spinal cord compression (ESCC) scores of 1c or higher and were deemed suitable for either treatment. Demographics, pre- and postoperative ESCC scores, histology, morbidity, hospital length of stay (LOS), complications, time to radiotherapy, time to resume systemic therapy, progression-free survival (PFS), and overall survival (OS) were compared between groups.

RESULTS

Eighty patients were included in this analysis, 40 in each group. Patients were treated between January 2010 and December 2016. There was no significant difference in demographics or clinical characteristics between the cohorts. The SLITT cohort had a smaller postoperative decrease in the extent of ESCC but a lower estimated blood loss (117 vs 1331 ml, p < 0.001), shorter LOS (3.4 vs 9 days, p < 0.001), lower overall complication rate (5% vs 35%, p = 0.003), fewer days until radiotherapy or SSRS (7.8 vs 35.9, p < 0.001), and systemic treatment (24.7 vs 59 days, p = 0.015). PFS and OS were similar between groups (p = 0.510 and p = 0.868, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS

The authors’ results have shown that SLITT plus XRT is not inferior to open decompression surgery plus XRT in regard to local control, with a lower rate of complications and faster resumption of oncological treatment. A prospective randomized controlled study is needed to compare SLITT with open decompressive surgery for ESCC.