Article Abstract

Posterolateral thoracic decompression with anterior column cage reconstruction versus decompression alone for spinal metastases with cord compression: analysis of perioperative complications and outcomes

Authors: Aladine A. Elsamadicy, Owoicho Adogwa, Amanda Sergesketter, Emily Lydon, Carlos A. Bagley, Isaac O. Karikari


Background: The optimal surgical strategy for patients with spinal metastases remains unknown. The aim of this study was to determine if performing an anterior column reconstruction to a posterolateral approach adds to perioperative complications.
Methods: A retrospective review of all adult patients with spinal metastases who had a posterolateral approach for resection between January 2000 and December 2008. Perioperative complications and functional outcomes were determined.
Results: A total of 23 patients met the study criteria. Eleven patients underwent a costotransversectomy (CT) approach with anterior column reconstruction while 12 patients had a transpedicular (TP) approach without anterior column reconstruction. The mean age was 55.9 and 59.3 years in the CT and TP groups, respectively. There was no intraoperative death in either group. One death attributed to sepsis occurred in the TP group. A total of 5 (45.5%) complications occurred in the CT group and 7 (58.3%) in the TP group (P=0.68). An improvement in American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) impairment scale grades was observed in 3 (27.3%) patients in the CT group and 1 (8.3%) in TP group. ASIA grades remained the same in 8 (72.7%) patients in CT and 10 (83.3%) patients in TP groups. No patient worsened in the CT group whereas 1 (8.3%) patient in TP group worsened. The median survival was 12.2 months in the CT group and 19.0 months in the TP group (P=0.37).
Conclusions: The addition of anterior column reconstruction does not appear to be associated with more operative or perioperative complications when compared to decompression alone. Anterior column reconstruction should not be aborted in fear of increasing perioperative complications.