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Hideki Murakami, Norio Kawahara, Satoru Demura, Satoshi Kato, Katsuhito Yoshioka and Katsuro Tomita

Object

Total en bloc spondylectomy (TES) for thoracic spinal tumors may in theory produce neurological dysfunction as a result of ischemic or mechanical damage to the spinal cord. Potential insults include preoperative embolization at 3 levels, intraoperative ligation of segmental arteries, nerve root ligation, and circumferential dural dissection. The purpose of this study was to assess neurological function after thoracic TES.

Methods

The authors performed a retrospective review of 79 patients with thoracic-level spinal tumors that had been treated with TES between 1989 and 2006. Neurological function was retrospectively analyzed according to the Frankel grading system. Of the 79 cases, 26 involved primary tumors and 53 involved metastatic tumors. The number of excised vertebrae was 1 in 60 cases, 2 in 13, and ≥ 3 in 6. The Frankel grade before surgery was B in 1 case, C in 16, D in 29, and E in 33.

Results

At the follow-up, the Frankel grade was C in 2 cases, D in 24, and E in 53. Of 46 cases with neurological deficits before surgery, neurological improvement of at least 1 Frankel grade was achieved in 25 cases (54.3%). Although the Frankel grade did not change in 21 patients, improvement in neurological symptoms within the same Frankel grade did occur in these patients. There were no cases of neurological deterioration.

Conclusions

There was no neurological deterioration due to preoperative embolization, ligation of segmental arteries, or ligation of thoracic nerve roots. Each of the cases with preoperative neurological deficits showed improvement in neurological symptoms. Data in the current study clinically proved that TES is a safe operation with respect to spinal cord blood flow. In TES, the spinal cord is circumferentially decompressed and the spinal column is shortened. An increase in spinal cord blood flow due to spinal shortening in addition to decompression was considered to have brought about a resolution of neurological symptoms with TES.

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Hideki Murakami, Norio Kawahara, Satoru Demura, Satoshi Kato, Katsuhito Yoshioka and Katsuro Tomita

Object

The prognosis in patients with a distant spinal metastasis from the lung is dismal. The role of radical surgery in such cases has been questioned because of the excessive morbidity, blood loss, and operative time as well as the tumor's extreme malignancy. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the surgical results and the prognosis associated with radical surgery for lung cancer metastasis to the spine in carefully selected patients and to clarify whether there is an indication for radical surgery such as total en bloc spondylectomy (TES) in lung cancer metastasis.

Methods

The author performed a retrospective review of patients with lung cancer spinal metastasis treated by TES during a 10-year period. Total en bloc spondylectomy for lung cancer metastasis to the spine was performed in 6 patients without visceral or other bony metastases. Outcome measures were prognostic score, mean survival time, and perioperative complications. The histological type was adenocarcinoma in all 6 cases. In 4 cases the surgical strategy prognostic score was 5. In the other 2 cases the score was 6 because there were skip metastases to adjacent vertebra. In the 2 cases with adjacent vertebral metastasis, the adjacent vertebra was excised en bloc together.

Results

The mean estimated blood loss was 1076 ml and the mean operative time was 7 hours 20 minutes. Perioperative complications were found in 2 cases. One was deep infection after CSF leakage, and the other was paralysis due to postoperative hematoma. At the end of follow-up period, 4 of 6 patients are still living after a mean of 46.3 months (range 36–62 months). In the other 2 cases, 1 patient died of a heart attack and the other of mediastinitis due to surgical site infection by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. In this series, local recurrence was not found.

Conclusions

Total en bloc spondylectomy has been shown to be associated with excessive morbidity, blood loss, and operative time; however, the procedure is becoming less invasive. The authors conclude that TES is appropriate in selected cases with controllable primary lung cancer, localized spinal metastasis, and no visceral metastasis. In such patients, improvement in the prognosis can be expected after TES. However, even in selected cases and with skilled surgical technique, the complication rate remains high. Total en bloc spondylectomy should be performed after a thorough discussion of the risks and benefits.

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Editorial

En bloc resection for metastatic spinal tumors: is it worth it?

Michael G. Fehlings and Doron Rabin

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Satoru Demura, Norio Kawahara, Hideki Murakami, Mohamed E. Abdel-Wanis, Satoshi Kato, Katsuhito Yoshioka, Katsuro Tomita and Hiroyuki Tsuchiya

Object

Thyroid carcinoma generally has a favorable prognosis, and patients rarely present with distant metastases. Authors of several studies have proposed piecemeal resection for spinal metastases in thyroid carcinoma; however, few have analyzed the impact of local curative surgery such as total en bloc spondylectomy (TES) for thyroid carcinoma. The purposes of the present study are to determine the strategy of surgical treatment for spinal metastases of thyroid carcinoma and to evaluate the surgical results of and the prognosis associated with TES.

Methods

Twenty-four cases of spinal metastases were retrospectively reviewed. The patients included 16 women and 8 men, with a mean age of 60.7 years. Histological examination showed follicular carcinoma in 15 cases, papillary carcinoma in 8, and medullary carcinoma in 1. Total en bloc spondylectomy was performed in 10 cases; debulking surgery, such as piecemeal excision or eggshell curettage, was performed in 14. The average follow-up time was 55 months (12–180 months).

Results

Four patients had no evidence of disease, 8 were alive with the disease, and 12 had died of the disease. The overall survival rate from the time of surgery was 74% at 5 years. Patients with visceral metastases had a significant, higher risk of death. The survival rate of patients following TES was 90% at 5 years, which was higher than the rate in patients who underwent debulking surgery (63%). However, no significant difference was observed between the 2 types of surgery. There was a local recurrence after debulking surgery in 8 (57%) of 14 cases. Because of the recurrences, reoperation was required after a mean of 41 months. In contrast, there was a local recurrence after TES in only 1 (10%) of 10 cases. The difference between debulking surgery and TES regarding local recurrence was statistically significant.

Conclusions

Total en bloc spondylectomy with enough of a margin provided favorable local control of spinal metastases of thyroid carcinoma during a patient's lifetime.

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Morio Matsumoto, Yoshiaki Toyama, Hirotaka Chikuda, Katsushi Takeshita, Tsuyoshi Kato, Shigeo Shindo, Kuniyoshi Abumi, Masahiko Takahata, Yutaka Nohara, Hiroshi Taneichi, Katsuro Tomita, Norio Kawahara, Shiro Imagama, Yukihiro Matsuyama, Masashi Yamazaki and Akihiko Okawa

Object

The aim of this study was to evaluate the outcomes of fusion surgery in patients with ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament in the thoracic spine (T-OPLL) and to identify factors significantly related to surgical outcomes.

Methods

The study included 76 patients (34 men and 42 women with a mean age of 56.3 years) who underwent fusion surgery for T-OPLL at 7 spine centers during the 5-year period from 2003 to 2007. The authors evaluated the patient demographic data, underlying disease, preoperative comorbidities, history of spinal surgery, radiological findings, surgical methods, surgical outcomes, and complications. Surgical outcomes were assessed using the Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) scale score for thoracic myelopathy (11 points) and the recovery rate.

Results

The mean JOA scale score was 4.6 ± 2.1 points preoperatively and 7.7 ± 2.5 points at the time of the final follow-up examination, yielding a mean recovery rate of 45.4% ± 39.1%. The recovery rates by surgical method were 38.5% ± 37.8% for posterior decompression and fusion, 65.0% ± 35.6% for anterior decompression and fusion via an anterior approach, 28.8% ± 41.2% for anterior decompression via a posterior approach, and 57.5% ± 41.1% for circumferential decompression and fusion. The recovery rate was significantly higher in patients without diabetes mellitus (DM) than in those with DM. One or more complications were experienced by 31 patients (40.8%), including 20 patients with postoperative neurological deterioration, 7 with dural tears, 5 with epidural hematomas, 4 with respiratory complications, and 10 with other complications.

Conclusions

The outcomes of fusion surgery for T-OPLL were favorable. The absence of DM correlated with better outcomes. However, a high rate of complications was associated with the fusion surgery.

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Katsuhito Yoshioka, Isao Kitajima, Tamon Kabata, Mineko Tani, Norio Kawahara, Hideki Murakami, Satoru Demura, Tsunehisa Tsubokawa and Katsuro Tomita

Object

The goal of this study was to determine the incidence of deep venous thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE) after spine surgery. Another purpose was to clarify the rapid changes of the fibrin monomer complex (FMC) and D-dimer levels during the perioperative period of spine surgery for early diagnosis of venous thromboembolism (VTE).

Methods

The participants were 72 patients who underwent spine surgery between September 2007 and March 2008. The FMC and D-dimer levels were measured 6 times: 1) at induction of general anesthesia; 2) just after implantation or during surgery; 3) immediately following surgery; 4) 1 day after surgery; 5) 3 days postsurgery; and 6) 7 days after surgery. All patients received mechanical prophylaxis, including compression stockings and intermittent pneumatic compression devices, and all were examined with duplex ultrasonography assessments of both lower extremities and with lung perfusion scintigraphy 7–10 days after surgery. If DVT or PE was suspected, the patient underwent multidetector CT venography.

Results

There were no patients with clinical signs of DVT and PE, but 6 (8.3%) showed VTE, among whom 5 had DVT and 3 had PE. Patients with VTE had significantly higher FMC levels 1 day after surgery, compared with those without VTE (55.9 ± 17.2 μg/ml vs 11.1 ± 2.89 μg/ml; p < 0.01). Patients with VTE had significantly higher D-dimer levels 7 days postsurgery, compared with those without VTE (12.5 ± 2.95 μg/ml vs 4.3 ± 0.39 μg/ml; p < 0.01). Receiver operating characteristic analysis showed that the FMC result was more useful than the D-dimer assay for diagnosis of VTE. When the cutoff value was set to 20.8 μg/ml for FMC, sensitivity was 100% and specificity was 86.3%.

Conclusions

In this study the prevalence of VTE after spine surgery was 8.3%. The FMC measured 1 day after spine surgery is considered to be useful as an indicator of VTE.

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Ahmed Ibrahim, Alan Crockard, Pierre Antonietti, Stefano Boriani, Cody Bünger, Alessandro Gasbarrini, Anders Grejs, Jürgen Harms, Norio Kawahara, Christian Mazel, Robert Melcher and Katsuro Tomita

Object

Opinions vary widely as to the role of surgery (from none to wide margin excision) in the management of spinal metastases. In this study the authors set out to ascertain if surgery improves the quality of remaining life in patients with spinal metastatic and tumor-related systemic disease.

Methods

The authors included 223 patients in this study who were referred by oncologists and physicians over a 2-year period. All underwent surgery. Surgery was classified according to extent of excision ranging from en bloc excision or debulking to palliative surgery. All patients had a histologically confirmed diagnosis of epithelial spinal metastasis, and an oncology specialist undertook appropriately indicated adjuvant therapy in almost half of the patients.

Results

The mean patient age was 61 years. Excisional en bloc or debulking surgery was performed in 74%; the rest had (minimal) palliative decompression. All patients considered for surgery were included in the study. Patients presented with pain in 92% of cases, paraparesis in 24%, and abnormal urinary sphincter function in 22% (5% were incontinent). Breast, renal, lung, and prostate accounted for 65% of the cancers, and in 60% of patients there were widespread spinal metastases (Tomita Type 6 or 7).

The incidence of perioperative death (within 30 days of surgery) was 5.8%. Postoperatively 71% of the entire group had improved pain control, 53% regained or maintained their independent mobility, and 39% regained urinary sphincter function. The median survival for the cohort was 352 days (11.7 months); those who underwent excision survived significantly longer than those in the palliative group (p = 0.003). As with survival results, functional improvement outcome was better in those who underwent excision.

Conclusions

Surgical treatment was effective in improving quality of life by providing better pain control, enabling patients to regain or maintain mobility, and offering improved sphincter control. Although not a treatment of the systemic cancer, surgery is feasible, has acceptably low mortality and morbidity rates, and for many will improve the quality of their remaining life.

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Ziya L. Gokaslan, Patricia L. Zadnik, Daniel M. Sciubba, Niccole Germscheid, C. Rory Goodwin, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Chetan Bettegowda, Mari L. Groves, Alessandro Luzzati, Laurence D. Rhines, Charles G. Fisher, Peter Pal Varga, Mark B. Dekutoski, Michelle J. Clarke, Michael G. Fehlings, Nasir A. Quraishi, Dean Chou, Jeremy J. Reynolds, Richard P. Williams, Norio Kawahara and Stefano Boriani

OBJECT

A chordoma is an indolent primary spinal tumor that has devastating effects on the patient's life. These lesions are chemoresistant, resistant to conventional radiotherapy, and moderately sensitive to proton therapy; however, en bloc resection remains the preferred treatment for optimizing patient outcomes. While multiple small and largely retrospective studies have investigated the outcomes following en bloc resection of chordomas in the sacrum, there have been few large-scale studies on patients with chordomas of the mobile spine. The goal of this study was to review the outcomes of surgically treated patients with mobile spine chordomas at multiple international centers with respect to local recurrence and survival. This multiinstitutional retrospective study collected data between 1988 and 2012 about prognosis-predicting factors, including various clinical characteristics and surgical techniques for mobile spine chordoma. Tumors were classified according to the Enneking principles and analyzed in 2 treatment cohorts: Enneking-appropriate (EA) and Enneking-inappropriate (EI) cohorts. Patients were categorized as EA when the final pathological assessment of the margin matched the Enneking recommendation; otherwise, they were categorized as EI.

METHODS

Descriptive statistics were used to summarize the data (Student t-test, chi-square, and Fisher exact tests). Recurrence and survival data were analyzed using Kaplan-Meier survival curves, log-rank tests, and multivariate Cox proportional hazard modeling.

RESULTS

A total of 166 patients (55 female and 111 male patients) with mobile spine chordoma were included. The median patient follow-up was 2.6 years (range 1 day to 22.5 years). Fifty-eight (41%) patients were EA and 84 (59%) patients were EI. The type of biopsy (p < 0.001), spinal location (p = 0.018), and if the patient received adjuvant therapy (p < 0.001) were significantly different between the 2 cohorts. Overall, 58 (35%) patients developed local recurrence and 57 (34%) patients died. Median survival was 7.0 years postoperative: 8.4 years postoperative for EA patients and 6.4 years postoperative for EI patients (p = 0.023). The multivariate analysis showed that the EI cohort was significantly associated with an increased risk of local recurrence in comparison with the EA cohort (HR 7.02; 95% CI 2.96–16.6; p < 0.001), although no significant difference in survival was observed.

CONCLUSIONS

EA resection plays a major role in decreasing the risk for local recurrence in patients with chordoma of the mobile spine.