In this paper, the authors' goal was to determine the outcome of reoperation for recurrent epidural spinal cord compression in patients with metastatic spine disease.
A retrospective chart review was conducted of all patients who underwent spine surgery at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center between 1996 and 2007. Thirty-nine patients who underwent reoperation of the spine at the level previously treated with surgery were identified. Only patients whose reoperation was performed because of tumor recurrence leading to high-grade epidural spinal cord compression or recurrence with no further radiation options were included in the study. Patients who underwent reoperations exclusively for instrumentation failure were excluded. All patients underwent additional decompression via a posterolateral approach without removal of the spinal instrumentation.
Patients underwent 1–4 reoperations at the same level. A median survival time of 12.4 months was noted after the first reoperation, and a median survival time of 9.1 months was noted after the last reoperation. At last follow-up 22 (65%) of 34 patients were ambulatory at the time of last follow-up or death, and the median time between loss-of-ambulation and death was 1 month. Functional status was maintained or improved by one Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group grade in 97% of patients. A major surgical complication rate of 5% was noted.
Reoperation represents a viable option in patients with high-grade epidural spinal cord compression who have recurrent metastatic tumors at previously operated spinal levels. In carefully selected patients, reoperation can prolong ambulation and result in good functional and neurological outcomes.