Minimally invasive lateral approaches for the treatment of spinal tumors: single-position surgery without the “flip”

Joseph L. Laratta, Ryan Weegens, Kyle T. Malone, Dean Chou, William D. Smith


Although primary tumors of the spine and neural elements are rare, metastatic disease to the spine is quite common. Traditionally, surgical treatment for spinal tumor patients involves open decompression with or without stabilization. The single-position minimally invasive (MIS) lateral approach, which has been recently described over the recent decade, allows simultaneous access to the anterior and posterior columns with the patient positioned in the lateral decubitus position. Herein, we review the application of single-position MIS lateral surgery for the treatment of spinal neoplasm. The aim was to review the evolution, operative technique, outcomes, and complications associated with MIS lateral approaches for spinal tumors. The history of spinal tumor diagnosis and management are reviewed and discussed as well as the author’s experience and literature regarding spinal tumor treatment outcome and surgical complications, with particular attention to single-position, MIS lateral approaches. In addition, the author’s surgical technique is outlined in detail for thoracic, thoracolumbar and lumbar tumors. Furthermore, there are specific indications and complications associated with the surgical treatment of spinal tumors, and the MIS, single-position lateral approach, when applied appropriately, allows for concurrent access to the anterior and posterior column while mitigating the complications associated with traditional, open posterior- based approaches. In the treatment of spinal neoplasms, the goals of surgery are dictated by a number of tumor-specific and patient-specific factors. Therefore, operative treatment of tumors in the future may be a consolidation of historical surgical techniques and MIS, single-position lateral approaches. Regardless, multidisciplinary management is imperative for the individualized treatment of the patient and optimization of outcome.