Is 1-stage Posterior Corpectomy More Favorable Compared With Decompression With Fusion to Control Thoracic Cord Compression by Metastasis?

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Study design:

A retrospective comparative study


To compare 1-stage posterior corpectomy to decompression with fusion for the control of thoracic cord compression due to a metastatic tumor.

Summary of Background Data:

Thoracic cord compression by a metastatic tumor can cause back pain, paralysis, and urinary/bowel dysfunction and is generally treated by palliative decompressive surgery. However, no studies have assessed the advantages of 1-stage posterior corpectomy compared with decompression with fusion.


We studied 18 patients who underwent surgery for thoracic cord compression due to metastatic tumors between September 2009 and August 2013. Neurological examination was performed preoperatively and postoperatively. Data on operative time, blood loss during surgery, postoperative complications, and survival time were retrospectively retrieved from electronic medical records. Patients were divided into 2 groups based on treatment: decompression and corpectomy (corpectomy group, n=8) and decompression with fusion (decompression-fusion group, n=10). Data were statistically compared between the 2 groups.


The mean age of the patients was 61±12 years. Motor weakness and urinary/bowel dysfunction were observed in 15 and 9 cases, respectively. Five patients, who could walk before surgery, could walk at 1 month following surgery. However, only 3 of the 13 patients who could not walk before surgery regained the ability to walk. No difference was found in the degree of muscle strength recovery between the 2 groups. However, the corpectomy group showed higher blood loss (2200 vs. 710 mL, P=0.037) and longer operative time (281 vs. 217 min, P=0.029) than the decompression-fusion group.


There is no significant advantage of 1-stage posterior corpectomy over decompression with fusion. Furthermore, more blood loss and longer operative time may increase the risk of postoperative complications following corpectomy. For this reason, 1-stage posterior corpectomy to control thoracic metastasis should be considered with caution.

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