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17.08.2017 | Original Article | Ausgabe 2/2018

Neurosurgical Review 2/2018

Thoracic corpectomy for neoplastic vertebral bodies using a navigated lateral extracavitary approach—a single-center consecutive case series: technique and analysis

Neurosurgical Review > Ausgabe 2/2018
Sebastian Hartmann, Christoph Wipplinger, Anja Tschugg, Pujan Kavakebi, Alexander Örley, Pierre Pascal Girod, Claudius Thomé


Thoracic myelopathy is often caused by vertebral body fractures resulting from neoplastic conditions, traumatic events, or infectious diseases. One of the preferred procedures for treating it is the lateral extracavitary approach (LECA) with single-level or multilevel decompressive corpectomy and reconstruction. The aim of this retrospective study was to analyze the thoracic lateral extracavitary approach with corpectomy using vertebral body replacement systems (VBR-S) and dorsal reconstruction. Twenty-four patients with metastatic or primary lesions of thoracic vertebrae T2–T12 underwent spinal decompression and ventral column reconstruction with correction of spinal deformity via a LECA. One-level to four-level corpectomies were performed with additional navigated dorsal pedicle screw fixation at an average of two levels above and below the corpectomy lesion. None of the patients received preoperative spinal embolization, and the majority of the patients were admitted to radiotherapy postoperatively. Their mean age was 56 years (± 15), with a female-to-male sex ratio of 8 to 16. Patients with a minimum follow-up period of 16 months were included. The Karnofsky index, preoperative and postoperative numeric rating scale (NRS), and Frankel scale were measured. In addition, intraoperative loss of blood (LOB), units of packed red blood cell (PRBC) transfusions, the duration of the operation, and the hospitalization period were evaluated and correlated with preoperative and postoperative values. The majority of the patients were suffering from metastatic lesions and were treated with a 1 level corpectomy (median 1 level, range 1 to 4). The mean duration of surgery was 288 min (± 121) and the mean LOB was 1626 mL (± 1486 mL), with approximately two PRBC units per patient used. All patients were transferred to the intensive care unit (ICU) postoperatively, with a mean ICU stay of 2.0 days (± 1 day). The mean hospitalization period was 13 days (± 7 days). No implant-related failures or procedure-related deaths were observed. Significant differences were noted between the preoperative and postoperative Karnofsky index (74 vs. 84%) and NRS (4 vs. 2). One patient required revision surgery due to a superficial wound infection, and another needed revision surgery due to a dural tear. In another patient, an iatrogenic dural tear was repaired during the same surgical procedure and did not lead to postoperative complications. Four pleural effusions and one pneumothorax were observed, so that the overall complication rate was approximately 33%. Four of the patients died within 2 years of the operation due to progression of the primary disease. Lateral corpectomy and sagittal reconstruction of the thoracic spine using VBR-S conducted via a navigated LECA approach yields favorable results, despite the burden of neoplastic disease. These challenging procedures are accompanied by increased LOB and hospitalization periods, with moderate transfusion requirements. Surgery-related complications are low and local tumor control is satisfactory, despite the progression of the underlying neoplastic disease. However, optimal surgical therapy does not ensure long-term survival.
Study design Retrospective analysis of thoracic corpectomies
Level of evidence 4

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