Multidisciplinary surgical considerations for en bloc resection of sacral chordoma

Neurosurg Focus 56(5):E7, 2024

Contemporary management of sacral chordomas requires maximizing the potential for recurrence-free and overall survival while minimizing treatment morbidity. En bloc resection can be performed at various levels of the sacrum, with tumor location and volume ultimately dictating the necessary extent of resection and subsequent tissue reconstruction. Because tumor resection involving the upper sacrum may be quite destabilizing, other pertinent considerations relate to instrumentation and subsequent tissue reconstruction. The primary aim of this study was to survey the surgical approaches used for managing primary sacral chordoma according to location of lumbosacral spine involvement, including a narrative review of the literature and examination of the authors’ institutional case series.

METHODS The authors performed a narrative review of pertinent literature regarding reconstruction and complication avoidance techniques following en bloc resection of primary sacral tumors, supplemented by a contemporary series of 11 cases from their cohort. Relevant surgical anatomy, advances in instrumentation and reconstruction techniques, intraoperative imaging and navigation, soft-tissue reconstruction, and wound complication avoidance are also discussed.

RESULTS The review of the literature identified several surgical approaches used for management of primary sacral chordoma localized to low sacral levels (mid-S2 and below), high sacral levels (involving upper S2 and above), and high sacral levels with lumbar involvement. In the contemporary case series, the majority of cases (8/11) presented as low sacral tumors that did not require instrumentation. A minority required more extensive instrumentation and reconstruction, with 2 tumors involving upper S2 and/or S1 levels and 1 tumor extending into the lower lumbar spine. En bloc resection was successfully achieved in 10 of 11 cases, with a colostomy required in 2 cases due to rectal involvement. All 11 cases underwent musculocutaneous flap wound closure by plastic surgery, with none experiencing wound complications requiring revision.

CONCLUSIONS The modern management of sacral chordoma involves a multidisciplinary team of surgeons and intraoperative technologies to minimize surgical morbidity while optimizing oncological outcomes through en bloc resection. Most cases present with lower sacral tumors not requiring instrumentation, but stabilizing instrumentation and lumbosacral reconstruction are often required in upper sacral and lumbosacral cases. Among efforts to minimize wound-related complications, musculocutaneous flap closure stands out as an evidence-based measure that may mitigate risk.