Total en bloc spondylectomy for lung cancer metastasis to the spine

Clinical article

Hideki Murakami M.D., Ph.D., Norio Kawahara M.D., Ph.D., Satoru Demura M.D., Ph.D., Satoshi Kato M.D., Ph.D., Katsuhito Yoshioka M.D., Ph.D. and Katsuro Tomita M.D., Ph.D.
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  • Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Kanazawa University, Kanazawa, Japan
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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.

Abbreviation used in this paper: TES = total en bloc spondylectomy.

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Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to: Hideki Murakami, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Kanazawa University, 13-1 Takaramachi, Kanazawa, 920-8641, Japan. email: hmuraka@med.kanazawa-u.ac.jp.
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