Unresectable malignant intramedullary tumors and metastases usually require radiotherapy which intensifies spinal cord edema and might result in neurological decline. Spinal expansion duroplasty before radiotherapy enlarges the intrathecal volume and might thus prevent neurological deficits. The study aims to evaluate the clinical course of patients undergoing expansion duroplasty. This retrospective analysis (2007–2016) included all patients with unresectable intramedullary tumors who underwent spinal expansion duroplasty. To assess the degree of preoperative cord enlargement, we calculated the “diameter ratio”: diameter of the spinal cord below and above the tumor / diameter of the tumor × 2. The presence of perimedullary cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) at the affected levels was analyzed on the preoperative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). We recorded the occurrence of neurological deficits, wound breakdown, and CSF fistula. We screened 985 patients, 11 of which were included. Eight patients had an intramedullary metastasis, three patients a spinal malignant glioma. A diameter ratio ≤ 0.8 representing a significant preoperative intramedullary enlargement was seen in 10 cases (90.9%). Postoperative imaging was available in 9 patients, demonstrating successful decompression in 8 of the 9 patients (88.9%). The postoperative course was uneventful in 9 patients (81.8%). Mean overall survival was 13.4 (SD 16.2) months. Spinal expansion duroplasty prior to radiotherapy is a previously undescribed concept. Despite neoadjuvant radiation, no wound breakdown or CSF fistula occurred. In unresectable intramedullary tumors and metastases, spinal expansion duroplasty seems to be a safe procedure with the potential to prevent neurological decline due to radiation-induced cord swelling.
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Conflict of interest
All authors certify that they have no affiliations with or involvement in any organization or entity with any financial interest (such as honoraria, educational grants, participation in speakers’ bureaus, membership, employment, consultancies, stock ownership, or other equity interest and expert testimony or patent-licensing arrangements), or non-financial interest (such as personal or professional relationships, affiliations, knowledge, or beliefs) in the subject matter of materials discussed in this manuscript.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. For this type of retrospective study formal consent is not required.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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Fiss, I., Bettag, C., Schatlo, B. et al. Prophylactic enlargement of the thecal sac volume by spinal expansion duroplasty in patients with unresectable malignant intramedullary tumors and metastases prior to radiotherapy. Neurosurg Rev 43, 273–279 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10143-018-1051-0
- Spinal metastasis
- Spinal tumor
- Spinal cord compression