Removal of giant extraforaminal dumbbell tumors of cervical spine

The Spine Journal 9 (2009) 822–829. doi:10.1016/j.spinee.2009.06.023

Removal of cervical dumbbell tumors can be particularly challenging because of unique exposure requirements and proximity of the vertebral artery (VA). There are no reports describing the treatment of giant cervical spine dumbbell tumors (CSDTs).

PURPOSE: To introduce an extensive posterolateral approach to CSDTs involving total lateral mass resection and laminectomy.

STUDY DESIGN: Prospective study of all the patients with multilevel CSDTs treated by  this new procedure between December 2002 and March 2006.

PATIENT SAMPLE: Sixteen patients (3 men and 13 women) with CSDTs underwent the procedure we describe. The follow-up periods ranged from 9 to 51 months (average 9 months). Average age at surgery was 45 years (range 23–68 years).

OUTCOME MEASURES: Axial symptoms and Japanese Orthopedic Association scores were recorded. Pre- and postoperative ranges of neck motion were measured on lateral flexion and extension radiographs.

METHODS: After making a midline incision, we preferred exposing the extraforaminal component of the tumor before performing a semilaminectomy and lateral mass resection. Any lateral extensión of a tumor can be attained by detachment of the adjacent three or more segments of the lateral mass muscle insertion. The most lateral portion can be separated beneath the tumor’s superficial muscle flap, and then when the tumor is retracted medially, the whole portion of the lateral component can be totally exposed. We then performed total lateral mass resection and laminectomy to expose the tumor at the foramina and cervical canal.

RESULTS: We were able to completely resect the tumors in every patient. The average duration of surgery was 150 minutes. Blood loss was minimal (average 400 mL). All patients were monitores for a minimum of 9 months (range 9–51 months; mean 28 months). The follow-up period was uneventful, and no patients developed spinal instability.

CONCLUSIONS: Extensive posterolateral exposure enables surgeons to reach the lateralmost portion of CSDTs and also facilitates septation of the VA and resection of vertebral body encroachment of the tumor.