Spinal deformity after resection of cervical intramedullary spinal cord tumors in children

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Progressive spinal deformity after cervical intramedullary spinal cord tumor (IMSCT) resection requiring subsequent fusion occurs in many cases among pediatric patients. It remains unknown which subgroups of patients represent the greatest risk for progressive spinal deformity.

Materials and methods

The data for 58 patients undergoing surgical resection of cervical IMSCT at a single institution were retrospectively collected and analyzed for development of progressive spinal deformity requiring fusion. The association of all clinical, radiographic, and operative variables to subsequent progressive spinal deformity as a function of time was assessed via Kaplan-Meier plots and Log-rank and Cox analyses.


Mean age at the time of surgery was 11 ± 6years. Eleven (19%) patients required subsequent fusion for progressive spinal deformity at a median [interquartile range (IQR)] of 4 (2–6) years after IMSCT resection. Five (36%) of 14 patients with preoperative scoliosis or loss of lordosis developed postoperative progressive spinal deformity compared to only 6 (13%) of 44 patients with normal preoperative sagittal and coronal balance, p = 0.06. Patients <13years of age were more than three times more likely to develop postoperative progressive deformity, p = 0.05. Decompression spanning both the axial cervical spine (C1-C2) and the cervico-thoracic junction (C7-T1) increased the risk for progressive spinal deformity fourfold, p = 0.04. Number of spinal levels decompressed, revision surgery, radiotherapy, involvement of C1-C2 or C7-T1 alone in the decompression, or any other recorded variables were not associated with progressive postoperative spinal deformity.


Patients possessing one or more of these characteristics should be monitored closely for progressive spinal deformity after surgery.

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