The object of this study was to compare the mini-open anterior corpectomy procedure with posterior total en bloc spondylectomy (TES) in treating patients with solitary metastases of the thoracolumbar spine.
From 2004 to 2010, 41 patients with solitary metastases of the thoracolumbar spine were treated in our hospital using either a mini-open anterior corpectomy or posterior TES. Intraoperative and diagnostic data, including perioperative complications, were collected using retrospective chart review. The surgical outcomes were assessed according to survival status, neurological function, local recurrence, and pain before and after surgery.
Seventeen patients underwent posterior TES and 24 underwent mini-open anterior corpectomy. Mean blood loss (TES, 1721 ± 293 ml; mini-open corpectomy, 1058 ± 263 ml; p < 0.05), and mean operative time (TES, 403 ± 55 minutes; mini-open corpectomy, 175 ± 38 minutes; p < 0.05) were recorded and calculated. Neurological improvement by at least 1 American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale grade was noted in 35 (97.2%) of the 36 cases with preoperative deficits. After the operation, 68.4% of nonambulatory patients became ambulatory again, including 84.6% after mini-open corpectomy and 33.3% after posterior TES (p > 0.05). The visual analog scale scores of the patients were significantly reduced after both procedures, with no difference between the procedures (p > 0.05). The local tumor recurrence rate of the TES group was significantly lower than that of the mini-open corpectomy group (p < 0.05), while the postoperative survival rates within 2 years after surgery were similar. The complication rate in the mini-open corpectomy group (29.2%) was higher than that in the TES group (11.8%), but this difference was not statistically significant (p = 0.185). There was no hardware failure and no loss of the sagittal Cobb angle in either group. Slight subsidence (< 3 mm) of the mesh cage was observed with a successful fusion in 3 (17.6%) of 17 patients in the TES group. No subsidence of polymethylmethacrylate block/autograft was recorded in the mini-open group.
Mini-open anterior corpectomy can be accomplished with less blood loss, fewer fixation instrumentations, and shorter surgical time than that required for TES, but patients who undergo a mini-open corpectomy might have a greater tendency to experience local recurrence. A mini-open anterior corpectomy has a relatively mild learning curve and involves fewer technical difficulties. With smaller incisions, mini-open anterior corpectomy is an option in treating solitary metastases of the thoracolumbar spine.
Abbreviations used in this paper:ASIA = American Spinal Injury Association; PMMA = polymethylmethacrylate; TES = total en bloc spondylectomy; VAS = visual analog scale.
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