Postoperative progressive spinal deformity often complicates functional outcome after resection of pediatric intramedullary spinal cord tumors (IMSCTs). The authors propose a preoperative grading scale that correlates with the postoperative development of progressive spinal deformity requiring subsequent fusion.
The data obtained in 164 patients who underwent resection of an IMSCT at a single institution were retrospectively collected and analyzed to determine the development of progressive spinal deformity requiring fusion. A grading scale (range of scores I–V) was created based on the presence or absence of 4 preoperative variables: preoperative scoliosis, involvement of the thorocolumbar junction, age < 13 years, and number of surgeries for an IMSCT. The grading scale was then retrospectively applied to this series of 164 children to assess the correlation of variables with subsequent spinal deformity.
Nine patients presented with Grade I status, 41 patients with Grade II, 58 patients with Grade III, 44 patients with Grade IV, and 12 patients with Grade V. Overall, 44 patients (27%) developed progressive spinal deformity requiring fusion at a mean follow-up of 5 years after surgery. A higher preoperative grade was associated with an increasing need for subsequent fusion for progressive spinal deformity (Grade I [0%], Grade II [5%], Grade III [26%], Grade IV [40%], and Grade V status [75%]).
Application of this grading scheme to a series of resected pediatric IMSCTs has demonstrated its correlation with the incidence of postoperative progressive spinal deformity requiring fusion. The application of a standardized grading scheme will assist in the process of surgical decision making and postoperative evaluation.