En bloc resection of primary tumors of the cervical spine: report of two cases and systematic review of the literature.

Department of Neurological Surgery, University of California, San Francisco, 505 Parnassus Avenue, M779, Box 0112, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.
The spine journal: official journal of the North American Spine Society (Impact Factor: 2.9). 09/2009; 9(11):928-35. DOI: 10.1016/j.spinee.2009.07.005
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Survival data and rates of recurrence after en bloc resection for cervical spinal tumors are limited to single case reports and small case series, making the true risk of recurrence after this procedure unknown.
To report two cases of cervical chordoma managed via en bloc resection. To conduct a systematic review of the existing literature to determine the overall incidence of disease-free survival and investigate potential prognostic factors of recurrence.
Case report and systematic review.
We present the cases of a 60-year-old woman and a 76-year-old man who underwent en bloc resection of C3-C6 and C2 chordomas, respectively. A complete MEDLINE search was then undertaken for all articles reporting survival data for en bloc resections of primary tumors of the cervical spine. Exclusion criteria included non-English articles, lack of explicit mention or description of en bloc technique, age less than 16, no demographic or survival information reported, and follow-up less than 1 month. Survivorship analysis was conducted, and Kaplan-Meier plots were created with the primary outcome of interest being any tumor recurrence.
A total of 10 articles comprising 18 cases were included for analysis with a mean follow-up of 47.4+/-41.5 months. Mean operative time, estimated blood loss, and length of hospitalization were 18.6 hours, 2.9L, and 34.6 days, respectively. Postoperative complications occurred in eight of the nine patients in which these data were reported. There were three cases of local recurrence, occurring at 12, 44, and 113 months, and one case of distant metastasis, occurring at 12 months postoperatively. With the available data, 1- and 5-year disease-free survival rates of 88.2% and 73.5% were calculated. On Cox proportional hazards analysis, no factors were found to be predictive of recurrence.
In this systematic review of the literature, en bloc resection provided good disease-free survival rates in patients with primary tumors of the cervical spine. However, there are insufficient data on long-term subjective outcomes in these patients, and larger series are needed to determine the efficacy compared with piecemeal resection techniques. Other investigators should be encouraged to publish their results so that combined analyses like these may be performed with larger sample sizes.

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    ABSTRACT: Anterior exposure for cervical chordomas remains challenging because of the anatomical complexities and the restoration of the dimensional balance of the atlanto-axial region. In this report, we describe and analyze the transmandibular transoral approach and multilevel spinal reconstruction for upper cervical chordomas. We report two cases of cervical chordomas (C2 and C2-C4) that were treated by marginal en bloc resection with a transmandibular approach and anterior-posterior multilevel spinal reconstruction/fixation. Both patients showed clinical improvement. Postoperative imaging was negative for any residual tumor and revealed adequate reconstruction and stabilization. Marginal resection requires more extensive exposure to allow the surgeon access to the entire pathology, as an inadequate tumor margin is the main factor that negatively affects the prognosis. Anterior and posterior reconstruction provides a rigid reconstruction that protects the medulla and decreases axial pain by properly stabilizing the cervical spine.
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    ABSTRACT: Object Chordomas involving the mobile spine are ideally managed via en bloc resection with reconstruction to optimize local control and possibly offer cure. In the cervical spine, local anatomy poses unique challenges, limiting the feasibility of aggressive resection. The authors present a multi-institutional series of 16 cases of cervical chordomas removed en bloc. Particular attention was paid to clinical outcome, complications, and recurrence. In addition, outcomes were assessed according to position of tumor at the C1-2 level versus the subaxial (SA) spine (C3-7). Methods The authors reviewed cases involving patients who underwent en bloc resection of cervical chordoma at 4 large spine centers. Patients were included if the lesion epicenter involved the C-1 to C-7 vertebral bodies. Demographic data and details of surgery, follow-up course, exposure to adjuvant therapy, and complications were obtained. Outcome was correlated with presence of tumor in C1-2 versus subaxial spine via a Student t-test. Results Sixteen patients were identified (mean age at presentation 55 ± 14 years). Seven cases (44%) cases involved C1-2, and 16 involved the subaxial spine. Median survival did not differ significantly different between the C1-2 (72 months) and SA (60 months) groups (p = 0.65). A combined (staged anteroposterior) approach was used in 81% of the cases. Use of the combined approach was significantly more common in treatment of subaxial than C1-2 tumors (100% vs 57%, p = 0.04). En bloc resection was attempted via an anterior approach in 6% of cases (C1-2: 14.3%; SA: 0%; p = 0.17) and a posterior approach in 13% of cases (C1-2: 29%; SA: 0%; p = 0.09). The most commonly reported margin classification was marginal (56% of cases), followed by violated (25%) and wide (19%). En bloc excision of subaxial tumors was significantly more likely to result in marginal margins than excision of C1-2 tumors (C1-2: 29%; SA: 78%; p = 0.03). C1-2 tumors were associated with significantly higher rates of postoperative complications (C1-2: 71%; SA: 22%; p = 0.03). Both local and distant tumor recurrence was greatest for C1-2 tumors (local C1-2: 29%; local SA: 11%; distant C1-2: 14%; distant SA: 0%). Statistical analysis of tumor recurrence based on tumor location was not possible due to the small number of cases. There was no between-groups difference in exposure to postoperative adjuvant radiotherapy. There was no difference in median survival between groups receiving proton beam radiotherapy or intensity-modulated radiotherapy versus no radiation therapy (p = 0.8). Conclusions Compared with en bloc resection of chordomas involving the subaxial cervical spine, en bloc resection of chordomas involving the upper cervical spine (C1-2) is associated with poorer outcomes, such as less favorable margins, higher rates of complications, and increased tumor recurrence. Data from this cohort do not support a statistically significant difference in survival for patients with C1-2 versus subaxial disease, but larger studies are needed to further study survival differences.
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    ABSTRACT: OBJECT Recently, aggressive surgical techniques and a push toward en bloc resections of certain tumors have resulted in a need for creative spinal column reconstruction. Iatrogenic instability following these resections requires a thoughtful approach to adequately transfer load-bearing forces from the skull and upper cervical spine to the subaxial spine. METHODS The authors present a series of 7 cases in which lateral mass reconstruction with a cage or fibular strut graft was used to provide load-bearing support, including 1 case of bilateral cage placement. RESULTS The authors discuss the surgical nuances of en bloc resection of high cervical tumors and explain their technique for lateral mass cage placement. Additionally, they provide their rationale for the use of these constructs throughout the craniocervical junction and subaxial spine. CONCLUSIONS Lateral mass reconstruction provides a potential alternative or adjuvant method of restoring the load-bearing capabilities of the cervical spine.
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