[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Object The National Institutes of Health recommends strategies to obtain evidence for the treatment of rare conditions such as primary tumors of the spine (PTSs). These tumors have a low incidence and are pathologically heterogeneous, and treatment approaches are diverse. Appropriate evidence-based care is imperative. Failure to follow validated oncological principles may lead to unnecessary mortality and profound morbidity. This paper outlines a scientific model that provides significant evidence guiding the treatment of PTSs. Methods A four-stage approach was used: 1) planning: data from large-volume centers were reviewed to provide insight; 2) recruitment: centers were enrolled and provided the necessary infrastructure; 3) retrospective stage: existing medical records were reviewed and completed with survival data; and 4) prospective stage: prospective data collection has been implemented. The AOSpine Knowledge Forum Tumor designed six modules: demographic, clinical, diagnostic, therapeutic, local recurrence, survival, and perioperative morbidity data fields and provided funding. Results It took 18 months to implement Stages 1-3, while Stage 4 is ongoing. A total of 1495 tumor cases were captured and diagnosed as one of 18 PTS histotypes. In addition, a PTS biobank network has been created to link clinical data with tumor pathology and molecular analysis. Conclusions This scientific model has not only aggregated a large amount of PTS data, but has also established an international collaborative network of spine oncology centers. Access to large volumes of data will generate further research to guide and enhance PTS clinical management. This model could be applied to other rare neoplastic conditions. Clinical trial registration no.: NCT01643174 ( ClinicalTrials.gov ).
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Patients presenting with metastatic spinal cord compression (MSCC) due to an unknown primary tumour (UPT) present an interesting problem with limited literature available to provide guidance on management. Our aim was twofold-first, to analyse all our patients with MSCC due to a UPT pre-operatively, to review their treatment and outcome; second, make comparisons with those patients who presented with MSCC due to a known primary tumour (KPT) during the same period.
All data was collected retrospectively from October 2004 to October 2009, then prospectively from October 2009 to October 2012 (8 years). We reviewed all patient records held on the database, including patient demographics, primary tumour, neurological outcome (Frankel grade), complications and survival.
During the 8-year study period, out of the 382 patients who underwent emergency surgery for MSCC, 285 patients were included in whom complete information was available. Of these, 17 patients presented with MSCC due to a UPT (6 %; mean age 61 years, 5 M, 12 F). When compared to those with a known primary, the UPT group trended to a longer duration of symptoms prior to surgery (200 vs. 156 days, p = 0.86). They had a similar neurological outcome (88 % remained the same or improved post-operatively vs. 90 % in KPT group; p = 0.42), similar complication rate (23.5 vs. 33.6 %; p = 0.32) and survival (222 vs. 251 days, p = 0.42). The primary site in the UPT group was confirmed in 10/17 (58.8 %)-all 10 were adenocarcinoma [lung (6) and GI (4)].
In our series, the incidence of MSCC due to an unknown primary was 6 %. They had similar overall outcome (neurology post-operatively, complications and survival) to those patients with MSCC from a known primary. Our experience would suggest that we need to treat these patients expeditiously with thorough evaluation and urgent treatment.
European Spine Journal 04/2014; · 2.47 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Neuroblastoma is the most common extra-cranial solid tumour in children. Metastasis in children to the upper cervical spine are quite rare.
An 8-year-old boy was referred to our service following a relapse of a right adrenal stage 4 neuroblastoma with a metastatic deposit in C2. This anterior tumour mass was pressing on the spinal cord with increasing pain in the base of skull, but without gross neurological deficit. He underwent urgent MRI and CT scans and then emergent surgery. The first stage was a posterior stabilization from occiput to C5 with a posterior decompression from C1 to C3 followed by a trans-oral approach to resect the main anterior tumour mass and reconstruction.
This is the first report of the use of a trans-oral approach to address a neuroblastoma lesion in the axial spine. This approach was used effectively to achieve local tumour clearance confirmed at 1-year follow-up. Pertinent information to the spinal surgeon on neuroblastoma and the use of the trans-oral approach to the axial spine are discussed.
European Spine Journal 02/2014; · 2.47 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Giant herniated thoracic discs (GHTD) remain a surgical challenge. When combined with calcification, these discs require altered surgical strategies and have only been infrequently described. Our objective was to describe our surgical approaches in the management of calcified GHTD.
This was a retrospective cohort study of all patients with calcified GHTD operated between 2004 and 2012. Data were collected from review of patients' notes and radiographs and included basic demographic and radiological data, clinical presentation and outcome, operative procedure and complications.
During the study period, there were 13 patients with calcified GHTD, including 6 males and 7 females (mean age 55 years, range 31-83 years). The average canal encroachment was 62 % (range 40-90 %); mean follow-up 37 months (12-98). All patients were treated with anterior thoracotomy, varying degrees of vertebral resection, removal of calcified disc and with or without reconstruction. The average time for surgery was 344 min (range 212-601 min) and estimated blood loss 1,230 ml (range 350-3,000 ml). Post-operatively, 8 patients improved by 1 Frankel grade (62 %), 2 improved by 2 grades (15 %) and 3 did not change their grade (23 %). The complication rate was 4/13 (31 %; 3 patients with durotomies (2 incidental, 1 intentional) and 1 with recurrence).
Calcified GHTD remain a surgical challenge. Anterior decompression through a thoracotomy approach, and varying degrees of vertebral resection with or without reconstruction allowed us to safely remove the calcified fragment. All patients remained the same (23 %) or improved by at least 1 grade (77 %) neurologically, without radiographic failure at final follow-up.
European Spine Journal 02/2014; · 2.47 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Study Type Retrospective cohort. Introduction The treatment of rare neoplastic conditions is challenging, especially because studies providing high levels of evidence are often lacking. Such is the case with primary tumors of the spine (PTS), which have a low incidence, are pathologically heterogeneous, and have diverse treatment approaches.1 Despite these difficulties, appropriate evidence-based care of these complex patients is imperative. Failure to follow validated oncologic principles may lead to unnecessary mortality and profound morbidity. Objective With the aim of offering patients the most appropriate treatment based on the best available evidence, a novel scientific model was developed and employed. This article outlines this model, which has not only provided significant evidence guiding treatment of this rare condition, but we believe is readily transferrable to other similarly rare conditions. Methods A four-stage approach was employed. (1) Planning: Data from large volume centers were reviewed together with results from a feasibility questionnaire to provide insight into epidemiology, patient volumes, tumor pathology, treatment modalities, and outcomes. (2) Recruitment: Centers with sufficient volume and valid data were enrolled and provided with the necessary infrastructure. This included study coordinators and a secure, Web-based database (REDCap, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, United States) to capture international data from six modules comprising: demographic, clinical, diagnostic, therapeutic, local recurrence, perioperative morbidity fields, and a cross-sectional survey to update survival information. The AOSpine Knowledge Forum Tumor designed these modules and provided funding. Each center received institutional ethics approval. (3) Retrospective stage: Prospectively collected data from all recruited centers were reviewed and analyzed retrospectively. (4) Prospective stage: Following interim analysis, prospective data collection has been implemented. In addition, a PTS bio-bank network has been created to link clinical data with tumor pathology and molecular analysis. Results It took 18 months to implement stages 1 to 3 of this model and stage 4 is ongoing. A total of 1,495 tumor cases were captured and diagnosed as one of the 18 primary spine tumor subtypes listed (Fig. 1). The most prevalent diagnosis was chordoma (n = 344, 23%). There were 674 females and 821 males with a mean age of 43 ± 19 years at the time of surgery. Surgical treatment was performed between 1981 and 2012. The survival at 5 and 10 years postsurgery was 71.9 and 53.3%, respectively, with a median survival of 13 years postsurgery (Fig. 2). Conclusions To date, this is the largest international collection of PTS. This novel scientific model has not only aggregated a large amount of PTS data, but has also established an international collaborative network of spine oncology centers. The access to large volumes of clinical and bio-bank data will generate further research to guide and enhance the clinical management of PTS. This novel scientific model could be of similar tremendous value if applied to other rare neoplastic conditions.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Thoracic cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) hygroma is a rare and potentially devastating complication of the anterior thoracic approach to the spine. We present two cases in which this complication resulted in acute cranial nerve palsy and discuss the pathoanatomy and management options in this scenario. CASE REPORTS: Two male patients presented to our department with neurological deterioration due to a giant herniated thoracic disc. The extruded disc fragment was noted pre-operatively to be calcified in both patients. A durotomy was performed at primary disc prolapse resection in the first patient, whereas an incidental durotomy during the procedure caused complication in the second patient. These were repaired primarily or sealed with Tachosil(®). Both patients re-presented with acute diplopia. Imaging of both patients confirmed a massive thoracic cerebrospinal fluid hygroma and evidence of intracranial changes in keeping with intracranial hypotension, but no obvious brain stem shift. The hemithorax was re-explored and the dural repair was revised. The first patient made a full recovery within 3 months. The second patient was managed conservatively and took 5 months for improvement in his ophthalmic symptoms. CONCLUSIONS: The risk of CSF leakage post-dural repair into the thoracic cavity is raised due to local factors related to the chest cavity. Dural repairs can fail in the presence of an acute increase in CSF pressure, for example whilst sneezing. Intracranial hypotension can result in subsequent hygroma and possibly haematoma formation. The resultant cranial nerve palsy may be managed expectantly except in the setting of symptomatic subdural haematoma or compressive pneumocephaly.
European Spine Journal 06/2013; · 2.47 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: INTRODUCTION: Despite numerous descriptive publications, the guidelines for treatment of cervical spinal tuberculosis (TB) are not very clear. The authors report a case of a young girl with cervico-thoracic spinal TB extending from C5 to T3 vertebrae presenting with weakness of the right hand and unsteady gait. CASE REPORT: An 11-year-old female who is an immigrant to the UK from Afghanistan, presented to our clinic with a 10-day history of difficulty in walking with an unsteady gait and 3-month history of progressive weakness in both her arms, the right side more affected than the left. Her immunisation history was unclear. Examination of the arms showed bilateral thenar and hypothenar wasting, more so on the right than the left. An MRI scan revealed a large para-spinal abscess extending from C3/4 to T4/5 with a significant anterior epidural cord compression from C5/6 to T2/3. Therapeutic/diagnostic aspiration was performed under ultrasound guidance and the aspirate was sent for microbiology. She was started empirically on multidrug anti-tubercular treatment and steroids. Although Ziehl-Neelsen stain was negative for acid-fast bacilli, microbiological confirmation of TB was obtained by positive TB culture sensitive to all first-line anti-TB drugs. She made a dramatic improvement within 3 weeks of anti-tubercular treatment. A follow-up MRI scan at 8 months showed complete resolution of the abscess. At 2 years of follow-up, she was a healthy looking child, back to her school with no residual clinical signs/symptoms of the disease. CONCLUSION: Our case of cervico-thoracic tuberculous abscess in a young child suggests that even with incomplete neurological deficit caused by epidural cord compression, ultrasound (or CT)-guided aspiration and anti-tubercular medication provide acceptable results at 2 years of follow-up.
European Spine Journal 04/2013; · 2.47 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: PURPOSE: Minimally invasive or "minimal access surgery" (MAS) is being utilized with increasing frequency to reduce approach-related morbidity in the lumbar spine. This paper describes our minimal access technique for posterior bilateral transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) and spinal instrumentation in a patient with high-grade spondylolisthesis grade (Myerding Grade III) with 5-year follow-up. METHODS: A 24-year-old lady presented with mechanical back pain and left leg L5 radiculopathy. On examination, she was a thin lady with an obvious step deformity in the lower lumbar spine and otherwise, a normal neurological examination. Imaging showed a grade III isthmic L5-S1 spondylolisthesis with foraminal stenosis and focal kyphotic alignment of 20° [slip angle (SA) = 70°]. Conservative measures had failed, and a decision was made to proceed with a MAS-TLIF approach. RESULTS: The estimated blood loss was less than 100 ml, operating time 150 min, and post-operative hospital stay was 4 days. Post-operatively the patient had significant improvement of back and radicular pain. Improvement in ODI was substantial and sustained at 5 years. A solid fusion was achieved at 8 months. The slip percentage improved from 68 % (pre-op) to 28 % (post-op) and the focal alignment to 20° lordosis (SA = 110°). CONCLUSIONS: A MAS approach for selected patients with a mobile high-grade spondylolisthesis is feasible, safe and clinically effective, with the added benefit of reduced soft-tissue disruption. Our result of this technique suggests that the ability to correct focal deformity, and achieve excellent radiographic and clinical outcome is similar to the open procedure.
European Spine Journal 01/2013; · 2.47 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: PURPOSE: Patients with neuromuscular scoliosis are at increased risk of neurological deficit post-operatively, but are a difficult population on whom to perform neurophysiological monitoring. We look here at a 7-year sample of our practice in the monitoring of neuromuscular patients. METHODS: A retrospective chart review was performed for 109 patients who underwent correction of neuromuscular scoliosis within our institution between 2005 and 2011. RESULTS: Of 109 patients who were identified, intraoperative monitoring was attempted in 66 cases. In eight cases (13 %), no reliable monitoring could be achieved and was therefore abandoned. On nine occasions, there was a significant drop in at least one modality intraoperatively. None of these nine suffered any clinically observable neurological deficit post-operatively. Of the 109 patients, 2 had clinically detectable deficits post-operatively, both of whom had undergone normal intraoperative monitoring. CONCLUSIONS: The two patients with observable deficit had their instrumentation left in situ after discussion with them and/or parents. Spinal cord monitoring in this population is possible but potentially unreliable. Surgeons will need to carefully consider the use of monitoring in their management of this challenging population.
European Spine Journal 01/2013; · 2.47 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: PURPOSE: To present the results of the surgical management of metastatic renal cell tumours of the spine with cord compression who underwent pre-operative embolisation. METHODS: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of all embolised vascular metastatic renal cell tumours of the spine that underwent urgent surgical intervention over a 7-year period (2005-2011). All medical notes, images and angiography/embolisation details were studied. We recorded the timing (immediate vs. delayed) and grade of embolisation and compared this to the estimated blood loss (EBL); extent of metastatic spinal cord compression (using the Tomita score and Bilsky scores) was also compared to EBL. Finally, neurological (Frankel grade), surgical outcome and complications were reviewed in all patients. RESULTS: During the study period, we operated on 25 emergency patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma causing spinal cord compression who had received pre-operative embolisation (mean age 59.6 (24-78) years; 8 females, 17 males). All but one of our patients had hypervascularisation/arterio-venous fistulae on angiography. We were able to achieve greater than 90 % embolisation in the majority (17/25, 68 %) The estimated blood loss was 1,696 (400-5,000) ml; mean operating time was 276 (90-690) min and an average of 2.3 (0-7) units of whole blood was transfused. Nine patients had a posterior only decompression/stabilisation, nine patients had a posterior decompression ± cement augmentation, six had combined anterior/posterior procedures and one had anterior corpectomy/reconstruction alone. There was no statistical difference in the EBL between immediate versus delayed surgery after embolisation or the grade of embolisation. Immediate surgery after embolisation and interestingly less complete embolisation showed a trend towards less EBL. The extent of the tumour as graded by the Bilsky score correlated with increased EBL (p = 0.042). No complications occurred during the embolisation procedure. The surgical complication rate was 32 % (8/25) including two major complications (septicaemia (1) and metal work failure (2)) and five minor complications. Postoperatively, 52 % (13/25) had no change in neurological status, 36 % (9/25) improved by at least one Frankel grade and 12 % (3/25) had neurological deterioration by one Frankel grade. The average survival following surgery was 14.1 (0.5-72) months. CONCLUSION: Blood loss (mean 1,696 ml) and complications (32 %) remain a concern in the operative treatment of vascular metastatic spinal cord compression. Most patients remained the same neurologically or improved by at least 1 grade (22/25, 88 %). Paradoxically, greater embolisation showed a trend to more blood loss which could be due to more extensive surgery in this group, a rebound 'reperfusion' phenomena or even the presence of arterio-venous fistulae. Interestingly, we also found that the extent of the tumour, as graded by the Bilsky score, correlated with increased blood loss suggesting that more extensive cord compression by metastases could lead to more blood loss intra-operatively.
European Spine Journal 01/2013; · 2.47 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: PURPOSE: The revised Tokuhashi score has been widely used to evaluate indications for surgery and predict survival in patients with metastatic spinal disease. Our aim was to analyse the actual survival time of patients treated for metastatic spinal cord compression (MSCC) in comparison with the predicted survival based on the revised Tokuhashi score. This would thereby allow us to determine the overall predictive value of this scoring system. METHODS: This study was a semi-prospective clinical study of all patients with MSCC presenting to our unit over 8 years-data from October 2003 to December 2009 were collected retrospectively and from December 2009, all data collected prospectively to October 2011. Patients were divided into three groups-Group 1 (Tokuhashi score 0-8, n = 84), Group 2 (Tokuhashi score 9-11, n = 83) and Group 3 (Tokuhashi score 12-15, n = 34). Data collected included demographic data, primary tumour histology, surgery type and complications, neurological outcome (Frankel grade) and survival. RESULTS: A total of 233 patients with MSCC were managed surgically in our unit during this time. Out of these complete data were available on 201 patients for analysis. Mean age of patients was 61 years (range 18-86; 127 M, 74 F). The primary tumour type was Breast (n = 29, 15 %), Haematological (n = 28, 14 %), Renal (n = 26, 13 %), Prostate (n = 26, 13 %), Lung (n = 23, 11 %), Gastro-intestinal (n = 11, 5 %), Sarcoma (n = 9, 4 %) and others (n = 49, 24 %). All patients included in the study had surgical intervention in the form of decompression and stabilisation. Posterior decompression and stabilisation was performed in 171 patients (with vertebrectomy in 31), combined anterior and posterior approaches were used in 18 patients and 12 had an anterior approach only. The overall complication rate was 19 % (39/201)-the most common being wound infection (n = 15, 8 %). There was no difference in the neurological outcome (Frankel grade) between Groups 1 and 2 (p = 0.34) or Groups 2 and 3 (p = 0.70). However, there was a significant difference between Groups 1 and 3 (p = 0.001), with Group 3 having a significantly better neurological outcome. Median survival was 93 days in Group 1, 229 days in Group 2 and 875 days in Group 3 (p = 0.001). The predictive value between the actual and predicted survival was 64 % (Group 1), 64 % (Group 2) and 69 % (Group 3). The overall predictive value of the revised Tokuhashi score using Cox regression for all groups was 66 %. CONCLUSION: We would conclude that although the predictive value of the Tokuhashi score in terms of survival time is at best modest (66 %), the fact that there were statistically significant differences in survival between the groups looked at in this paper indicates that the scoring system, and the components which it consists of, are important in the evaluation of these patients when considering surgery.
European Spine Journal 01/2013; · 2.47 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: PURPOSE: Metastatic spinal cord compression (MSCC) requires expeditious treatment. While there is no ambiguity in the literature about the urgency of care for patients with MSCC, the effect of timing of surgical intervention has not been investigated in detail. The objective of our study was to investigate whether or not the 'timing of surgery' is an important factor in survival and neurological outcome in patients with MSCC. METHODS: All patients with MSCC presenting to our unit from October 2005 to March 2010 were included in this study. Patients were divided into three groups-those who underwent surgery within 24 h (Group 1, n = 45), between 24 and 48 h (Group 2, n = 23) and after 48 h (Group 3, n = 53) from acute presentation of neurological symptoms. The outcome measures studied were neurological outcome (change in Frankel grade post-operatively), survival (survival rate and median survival in days), incidence of infection, length of stay and complications. RESULTS: Patients' age, gender, revised Tokuhashi score, level of spinal metastasis and primary tumour type were not significantly different between the three groups. Greatest improvement in neurology was observed in Group 1, although not significantly when compared against Group 2 (24-48 h; (p = 0.09). When comparisons of neurological outcome were performed for all patients having surgery within 48 h (Groups 1 and 2) versus after 48 h (Group 3), the Frankel grade improvement was significant (p = 0.048) favouring surgery within 48 h of presentation. There was a negative correlation (-0.17) between the delay in surgery and the immediate neurological improvement, suggesting less improvement in those who had delayed surgery. There was no difference in length of hospital stay, incidence of infection, post-operative complications or survival between the groups. CONCLUSIONS: Our results show that surgery should be performed sooner rather than later. Furthermore, earlier surgical treatment within 48 h in patients with MSCC resulted in significantly better neurological outcome. However, the timing of surgery did not influence length of hospital stay, complication rate or patient survival.
European Spine Journal 12/2012; · 2.47 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: PURPOSE: Anterior lumbar surgery is a common procedure for anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) and artificial disc replacement (ADR). Our aim was to study the exposure related complications for anterior lumbar spinal surgery performed by spinal surgeons. METHODS: A retrospective review was performed for 304 consecutive patients who underwent anterior lumbar spinal surgery over 10 years (2001-2010) at our institution. Each patient's records were reviewed for patients' demographics, diagnosis, level(s) of surgery, procedure and complications related to access surgery. Patients undergoing anterior lumbar access for tumour resection, infection, trauma and revision surgeries were excluded. RESULTS: All patients underwent an anterior paramedian retroperitoneal approach from the left side. The mean age of patients was 43 years (10-73; 197 males, 107 females). Indications for surgery were degenerative disc disease (DDD 255), degenerative spondylolisthesis (23), scoliosis (18), iatrogenic spondylolisthesis (5) and pseudoarthrosis (3). The procedures performed were single level surgery-L5/S1 (n = 147), L4/5 (n = 62), L3/4 (n = 7); two levels-L4/5 and L5/S1 (n = 74), L3/4 and L4/5 (n = 4); three levels-L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1 (n = 5); four levels-L2/3, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1 (n = 5). The operative procedures were single level ADR (n = 131), a single level ALIF (n = 87) with or without posterior fusion, two levels ALIF (n = 54), two levels ADR (n = 14), a combination of ADR/ALIF (n = 10), three levels ALIF (n = 1), three levels ADR/ALIF/ALIF (n = 1), ADR/ADR/ALIF (n = 2), four levels ALIF (n = 1) and finally 3 patients underwent a four level ADR/ADR/ALIF/ALIF. The overall complication rate was 61/304 (20 %). This included major complications (6.2 %)-venous injury requiring suture repair (n = 14, 4.6 %) and arterial injury (n = 5 [1.6 %], 3 repaired, 2 thrombolysed). Minor complications (13.8 %) included venous injury managed without repair (n = 5, 1.6 %), infection (n = 13, 4.3 %), incidental peritoneal opening (n = 12, 3.9 %), leg oedema (n = 2, 0.6 %) and others (n = 10, 3.3 %). We had no cases of retrograde ejaculation. CONCLUSION: We report a very thorough and critical review of our anterior lumbar access surgeries performed mostly for DDD and spondylolisthesis at L4/5 and L5/S1 levels. Vascular problems of any type (24/304, 7.8 %) were the most common complication during this approach. The incidence of major venous injury requiring repair was 14/304 (4.6 %) and arterial injury 5/304 (1.6 %). The requirement for a vascular surgeon with the vascular injury was 9/304 (3 %; 5 arterial injuries; 4 venous injuries). This also suggests that the majority of the major venous injuries were repaired by the spinal surgeon (10/14, 71 %). Our results are comparable to other studies and support the notion that anterior access surgery to the lumbar spine can be performed safely by spinal surgeons. With adequate training, spinal surgeons are capable of performing this approach without direct vascular support, but they should be available if required.
European Spine Journal 12/2012; · 2.47 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: PURPOSE: We performed a retrospective analysis of all cases of lumbo-sacral or sacral metastases presenting with compression of the cauda equina who underwent urgent surgery at our institution. Our objective was to report our experience on the clinical presentation, management and finally the surgical outcome of this cohort of patients. METHODS: We reviewed medical notes and images of all patients with compression of the cauda equina as a result of lumbo-sacral or sacral metastases during the study period (2004-2011). The collected clinical data consisted of time of onset of symptoms, neurology (Frankel grade), ambulatory status and continence. Operative data analysed were details of surgical procedure and complications. Post-operatively, we reviewed neurological outcome, ambulation, continence, destination of discharge and survival. RESULTS: During the 8-year study period, 20 patients [11 males, 9 females; mean age 61.8 years (29-87)] had received urgent surgery for metastatic spinal cauda compression caused by lumbo-sacral or sacral metastases. The majority of patients presented with symptoms of pain and neurological deterioration (n = 14) with onset of pain considerably longer than neurology symptoms [197 days (3-1,825) vs. 46 days (1-540)]; all patients were Frankel C (n = 2, both non-ambulatory), D (n = 13) or E (n = 5) at presentation and three patients were incontinent of urine. Operative procedures performed were posterior decompression with (out) fusion (n = 12), posterior decompression with sacroplasty (n = 1), decompression with lumbo-pelvic stabilisation with (out) kyphoplasty/sacroplasty (n = 7) and posterior decompression/reconstruction with anterior corpectomy/stabilisation (n = 2). Post-operatively, 5/20 (20 %) patients improved one Frankel grade, 1/20 (5 %) improved two grades, 13/20 (65 %) remained stable (8 D, 5 E) and 1/20 (5 %) deteriorated. All patients were ambulatory and 19/20 were continent on discharge. The mean length of stay was 7 days (4-22). There were 6/20 (30 %) complications: three major (PE, deep wound infection, implant failure) and three minor (superficial wound infection, incidental durotomy, chest infection). All patients returned back to their own home (n = 14/20, 70 %) or a nursing home (n = 6/20, 35 %). Thirteen patients are deceased (mean survival 367 days (120-603) and seven are still alive [mean survival 719 days (160-1,719)]. CONCLUSION: Surgical intervention for MSCC involving the lumbo-sacral junction or sacral spine has a high but acceptable complication rate (6/20, 30 %), and can be important in restoring/preserving neurological function, assisting with ambulatory function and allowing patients to return to their previous residence.
European Spine Journal 12/2012; · 2.47 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Metastatic involvement of the sacrum is rare and there is a paucity of studies which deal with the management of these tumours since most papers refer to primary sacral tumours. This study aims to review the available literature in the management of sacral metastatic tumours as reflected in the current literature.
A systematic review of the English language literature was undertaken for relevant articles published over the last 11 years (1999-2010). The PubMed electronic database and reference lists of key articles were searched to identify relevant studies using the terms "sacral metastases" and "metastatic sacral tumours". Studies involving primary sacral tumours only were excluded. For the assessment of the level of evidence quality, the CEBM (Oxford Centre of Evidence Based Medicine) grading system was utilised.
The initial search revealed 479 articles. After screening, 16 articles identified meeting our inclusion criteria [1 prospective cohort study on radiosurgery (level II); 2 case series (level III); 4 retrospective case series (level IV) and 9 case reports (level IV)].
The mainstay of management for sacral metastatic tumours is palliation. Preoperative angioembolisation is shown to be of value in cases of highly vascularised tumours. Radiotherapy is used as the primary treatment in cases of inoperable tumours without spinal instability where pain relief and neurological improvement are attainable. Minimal invasive procedures such as sacroplasties were shown to offer immediate pain relief and improvement with ambulation, whereas more aggressive surgery, involving decompression and sacral reconstruction, is utilised mainly for the treatment of local advanced tumours which compromise the stability of the spine or threaten neurological status. Adjuvant cryosurgery and radiosurgery have demonstrated promising results (if no neurological compromise or instability) with local disease control.
European Spine Journal 06/2012; 21(10):1984-93. · 2.47 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The objective of this study was to evaluate the overall incidence and total burden of successful litigation relating to the management of spinal disease across the National Health Service (NHS) in England.
The study design comprised a retrospective review of the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA) database, retrieving all successful claims relating to spinal disease between 2002 and 2010--a total of 235 (144 acute, 91 elective).
The general trend for successful claims with relation to spinal surgery has actually been decreasing steadily over the last few years. The total value of these claims during the period was £ 60.5 million, comprising £ 42.8 million (£ 28.6 million relating to acute diagnoses, £ 16.1 million for elective) in damages and £ 17.7 million in legal costs (31% relating to NHS legal costs, the remainder claimants costs).
Spinal litigation remains a source of significant cost to the NHS. The complexity of resolving these cases is reflected in the associated legal costs.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Fluoroscopy-guided percutaneous access to thoracic vertebrae is technically demanding due to the complex radiological anatomy and close proximity of the spinal cord, major vessels and pleural cavity. There is a trend towards computed tomography (CT) guidance due to a perceived reduction in the risk of spinal canal intrusion by instrumentation causing neurological injury. Due to limited access to CT guidance, there is a need for safe fluoroscopy-guided percutaneous access to the thoracic spine.
To evaluate the safety of a strict radio-anatomical protocol in avoiding access-related neurological complications due to tool misplacement in fluoroscopy-guided percutaneous procedures on the thoracic spine.
A combined two-surgeon prospective case series of 444 procedures (biopsy, vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty) covering all thoracic vertebral levels T1-T12. Clinical examination and routine observations were used to identify access-related complications including neurological, vascular and visceral injury using physiological parameters.
No patient in our series was identified to have sustained a neurological deficit or deterioration of preoperative neurological status.
Percutaneous access to the thoracic spine using fluoroscopic guidance is safe. The crucial step of the protocol is not to advance the tool beyond the medial pedicle wall on the anterior-posterior projection until the tip of the instrument has reached the posterior vertebral cortex on the lateral projection.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To describe a simple and reliable method of intra-operative localisation of thoracic spine in a single surgical setting. Intra-operative localisation of thoracic spine levels can be difficult due to anatomical constraints, such as scapular shadow, patient's size and poor bone quality. This is particularly true in cases of thoracic discectomies in which the vertebral bodies appear normal. There are several methods described in recent literature to address this. Many of them require a separate procedure which was performed often the previous day. We report a technique which addresses the issue of localising thoracic level intra-operatively.
After induction of general anaesthesia, the patient was placed prone and the pedicle of interest was identified using fluoroscopy. A K-wire was then inserted percutaneously into this pedicle under image guidance [confirmed in the antero-posterior (AP) and lateral views]. The wire was then cut close to the skin after bending it. The patient was now positioned laterally and the intended procedure performed through an anterior trans-thoracic approach. The 'K' wire was removed at the end of the procedure.
We routinely used this technique in all our thoracic discectomies (four cases in 2 years). There were no intra-operative complications. This method is simple, avoids the patient undergoing two procedures and requires no more ability than placing an implant in the pedicle under fluoroscopy. Placing the 'K' wire into a fixed point like the pedicle facilitates rapid intra-operative viewing of the level of interest and is removed easily at the conclusion of surgery.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Retrospective review of consecutive case series.
To evaluate the efficacy of using autologous rib graft for fusion across long posterior column defects.
Achieving fusion across large posterior column defects after en bloc tumor resection can be difficult. Rib graft can be harvested from the local wound, and its shape and structural properties are well suited for reconstruction of thoracic posterior column deficits.
After Research Ethics Board approval, a retrospective review of the charts of 17 consecutive patients undergoing posterior column reconstruction after en bloc tumor resections was carried out. Autologous vascularized and nonvascularized rib grafts were utilized in 8 and 9 cases, respectively; 14 patients with malignant tumors and 3 with benign etiology. After surgery, patients underwent routine clinical and radiographic follow-up, with a computed tomographic scan performed at a minimum of 6 months in all surviving patients. Clinical and radiographic films were analyzed.
Computed tomographic scans at a minimum of 6 months demonstrated graft incorporation in all surviving cases. There was no obvious difference at 6-month imaging to differentiate vascularized from nonvascularized grafts. There were no cases of graft dislodgement or fracture. Graft site morbidity was difficult to isolate from the morbidity of these large procedures. No complications related to the graft were identified.
The use of autologous rib graft with a proximal step-cut and distal saddle-cut supplemented with posterior instrumentation allowed immediate stabilization of the posterior column defect created by the en bloc tumor resection. This technique of fashioning the graft and taking advantage of its natural curved structure for immediate press-fit was associated with graft incorporation in our cases.