Initial experience with the use of an expandable titanium cage as a vertebral body replacement in patients with tumors of the spinal column: a report of 95 patients.

Eur Spine J 2012 Jan 18;21(1):84-92. Epub 2011 Jun 18.

Department of Neurosurgery, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Blvd., Box 442, Houston, TX 77030-4009, USA.

Objective: Vertebral body resection to treat spine tumors necessitates reconstruction to maintain spinal stability. The durability of reconstruction may be a challenge in cancer patients as treatment with chemotherapy and/or radiation coupled with poor nutritional status may compromise bone quality. We present a series of patients who underwent implantation of an expandable titanium cage (ETC) for reconstruction after vertebral body resection for primary or metastatic spine tumors. We report the functional outcome, assess the durability of reconstruction, and describe complications associated with this procedure.

Methods: A retrospective review of patients undergoing placement of ETC after vertebrectomy for spinal tumor at our institution was performed.

Results: From September 2001 to August 2006, 95 patients underwent implantation of an ETC for reconstruction of the anterior spinal column following vertebrectomy for tumor (75 one-level, 19 two-level, 1 three-level). All patients underwent spinal stabilization as well. The median survival after surgery was 13.7 months; 23 patients had primary spinal tumors and 72 had metastatic tumors. Numerical pain scores were significantly improved postoperatively indicating a palliative benefit. No new neurological deficits were noted postoperatively, except when intentional neurological sacrifice was performed for oncologic reasons. Median height correction of 14% (range 0-118%) and median improvement in sagittal alignment of 6° (range 0-28°) were demonstrated on immediate postoperative imaging. Three patients experienced hardware related complications, one of which had posterior migration of the ETC. On postoperative imaging, 12 patients demonstrated subsidence of greater than 1 mm, but none required operative revision.

Conclusion: Use of an ETC for spinal reconstruction in patients with spinal tumors is safe, decreases pain associated with pathologic fracture, protects neurologic function, and is durable. We found a very low incidence of cage-related construct failures and no significant problems with subsidence.

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http://link.springer.com/10.1007/s00586-011-1882-7
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00586-011-1882-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3252457PMC
January 2012
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