Reconstructive Strategies in Soft Tissue Reconstruction After Resection of Spinal Neoplasms

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Study Design.

A retrospective study of 134 consecutive cases in 92 patients who underwent soft tissue reconstruction of the spinal region following tumor removal.


To better understand how to optimize outcomes in soft tissue reconstruction of the spine region.

Summary of Background Data.

With the increasing use of instrumentation and the fact that many patients with spinal neoplasms have debilitated wound-healing capacity, most of these patients are at high risk for postsurgical wound complications. Unfortunately, the optimal strategy to prevent and to manage complex wound complications involving the spinal region remains unclear.


Factors potentially associated with the outcome of the reconstruction, including previous radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or surgery; medical comorbidities; timing of the reconstructive surgery; location of the defect; reconstructive approach; and presence of instrumentation, were evaluated and compared.


Of 92 patients, 29 patients (32%) developed postoperative wound complications. Among 32 patients with instrumentation of the spine, the 10 patients who had prophylactic soft tissue reconstruction had a significantly lower incidence of complications than did the 22 patients who had not (20% vs. 45%, P = 0.018). Furthermore, those who had previous surgery to the spine had a significantly higher risk of developing exposed instrumentation than did those who did not (21% vs. 0%, P = 0.002). Of 9 patients with exposed instrumentation, all but 1 patient had successful coverage of the instrumentation. Ninety (98%) of 92 patients had successful closure of the wound at the time of their last follow-up.


In the presence of instrumentation, providing preemptive soft tissue reconstruction at the time of the initial spinal surgery can help minimize potentially serious wound complications. For management of wound complications that have developed, an aggressive debridement and coverage with well-vascularized tissue can allow for expedient wound healing while maintaining stabilized instrumentation.

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