Spondylectomy for malignant tumors of the spine
Spondylectomy is the complete surgical removal of all parts of one or more vertebrae above the sacrum. We report our initial experience with spondylectomy in eight patients with malignant tumors of the spine operated on over a 7-year period (1980 to 1986). Four patients had primary neoplasms of the spine, and four others had solitary metastases to the vertebrae. Following surgery, five patients underwent radiation therapy (RT) and chemotherapy depending on histology of the tumor. Radiographic confirmation of tumor resection was obtained on all patients. Pain relief was noted in all patients, and six patients with preoperative neurological deficits improved. There was no surgical mortality, and one patient developed wound dehiscence following surgery. Six of the eight patients are alive with a median follow-up of 36 months, and local control was achieved in six of the eight patients. These preliminary data suggest that malignant tumors of the spine can be completely resected using a staged approach. In potentially responsive tumors, systemic chemotherapy is recommended between the two operations to reduce the risk of systemic dissemination.