The surgical treatment of metastatic spine tumors within the intramedullary compartment

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OBJECTIVE

Metastasis to the spinal cord is rare, and optimal management of this disease is unclear. The authors investigated this issue by analyzing the results of surgical treatment of spinal intramedullary metastasis (IM) at a major cancer center.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed the medical records of 13 patients who underwent surgery for IM. Patients had renal cell carcinoma (n = 4), breast carcinoma (n = 3), melanoma (n = 2), non–small cell lung cancer (n = 1), sarcoma (n = 1), adenoid cystic carcinoma (n = 1), and cervical cancer (n = 1). Cerebrospinal fluid was collected before surgery in 11 patients, and was negative for malignant cells, as was MRI of the neuraxis. Eleven patients presented with neurological function equivalent to Frankel Grade D.

RESULTS

Radiographic gross-total resection was achieved in 9 patients, and tumor eventually recurred locally in 3 of those 9 (33%). Leptomeningeal disease was diagnosed in 4 patients after surgery. In the immediate postoperative period, neurological function in 6 patients deteriorated to Frankel Grade C. At 2 months, only 2 patients remained at Grade C, 8 were at Grade D, and 1 had improved to Grade E. One patient developed postoperative hematoma resulting in Frankel Grade A. Radiotherapy was delivered in 8 patients postoperatively. The median survival after spine surgery was 6.5 months. Three patients are still living.

CONCLUSIONS

Surgery was performed as a last option to preserve neurological function in patients with IM. In most patients, neurological function returned during the immediate postoperative period and was preserved for the patients’ remaining lifetime. The data suggest that surgery can be effective in preventing further decline in selected patients with progressive neurological deficit.

ABBREVIATIONS GTR = gross-total resection; IM = intramedullary metastasis; KPS = Karnofsky Performance Scale; LMD = leptomeningeal disease; SRS = stereotactic radiosurgery; STR = subtotal resection; WBRT = whole-brain radiotherapy.
Article Information

Contributor Notes

Correspondence Ben A. Strickland, The Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, 1200 N State St., Ste. 3300, Los Angeles, CA 90033. email: ben.strickland@med.usc.edu.INCLUDE WHEN CITING Published online November 10, 2017; DOI: 10.3171/2017.5.SPINE161161.Disclosures Dr. Rhines is a consultant for Stryker and Globus.

© AANS, except where prohibited by US copyright law.

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