En Bloc Resection Versus Intralesional Surgery in the Treatment of Giant Cell Tumor of the Spine

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Study Design.

Multicenter, ambispective observational study.


The aim of this study was to quantify local recurrence (LR) and mortality rates after surgical treatment of spinal giant cell tumor and to determine whether en bloc resection with wide/marginal margins is associated with improved prognosis compared to an intralesional procedure.

Summary of Background Data.

Giant cell tumor (GCT) of the spine is a rare primary bone tumor known for its local aggressiveness. Optimal surgical treatment remains to be determined.


The AOSpine Knowledge Forum Tumor developed a comprehensive multicenter database including demographics, presentation, diagnosis, treatment, mortality, and recurrence rate data for GCT of the spine. Patients were analyzed based on surgical margins, including Enneking appropriateness.


Between 1991 and 2011, 82 patients underwent surgery for spinal GCT. According to the Enneking classification, 59 (74%) tumors were classified as S3-aggressive and 21 (26%) as S2-active. The surgical margins were wide/marginal in 27 (36%) patients and intralesional in 48 (64%) patients. Thirty-nine of 77 (51%) underwent Enneking appropriate (EA) treatment and 38 (49%) underwent Enneking inappropriate (EI) treatment. Eighteen (22%) patients experienced LR. LR occurred in 11 (29%) EI-treated patients and six (15%) EA-treated patients (P = 0.151). There was a significant difference between wide/marginal margins and intralesional margins for LR (P = 0.029). Seven (9%) patients died. LR is strongly associated with death (Relative Risk 8.9, P  < 0.001). Six (16%) EI-treated patients and one (3%) EA-treated patients died (P = 0.056). With regards to surgical margins, all patients who died underwent intralesional resection (P = 0.096).


En bloc resection with wide/marginal margins should be performed when technically feasible because it is associated with decreased LR. Intralesional resection is associated with increased LR, and mortality correlates with LR.


Level of Evidence: 3

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