Single-stage posterolateral transpedicle approach for spondylectomy, epidural decompression, and circumferential fusion of spinal metastases

Mark H. Bilsky*, Patrick Boland, Eric Lis, Jeffrey J. Raizer, John H. Healey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

139 Scopus citations


Study Design. Retrospective review of prospectively maintained institutional spine database. Objectives. To assess the pain, neurologic, and functional outcome of patients with metastatic spinal cord compression using a posterolateral transpedicular approach with circumferential fusion. Summary of Background Data. Patients with spinal metastases often have patterns of disease requiring both an anterior and posterior surgical decompression and spinal fusion. For patients whose concurrent illness or previous surgery makes an anterior approach difficult, a posterior transpedicular approach was used to resect the involved vertebral bodies, posterior elements, and epidural tumor. This approach provides exposure sufficient to decompress and instrument the anterior and posterior columns. Methods. During the past 15 months, 25 patients were operated on using a posterolateral transpedicular approach. The primary indications for surgery were back pain (15 patients) and neurologic progression (10 patients). All patients had vertebral body disease, and 21 patients had high-grade spinal cord compression from epidural disease as assessed by magnetic resonance imaging. Seven patients underwent preoperative embolization for vascular tumors. In each patient, the anterior column was reconstructed with polymethyl methacrylate and Steinmann pins and the posterior column with long segmental fixation. Results. All patients achieved immediate stability. Pain relief was significant in all 23 patients who had had moderate or severe pain. Neurologic symptoms were stable or improved in 23 patients. One patient with an acutely evolving myelopathy was immediately worse after surgery, and one patient had a delayed neurologic worsening, progressing to paraplegia. Conclusions. The posterolateral transpedicular approach provides a wide surgical exposure to decompress and instrument the anterior and posterior spine. This technique avoids the morbidity associated with anterior approaches and provides immediate stability. Vascular tumors may be removed safely after embolization. Patients can be mobilized early after surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2240-2250
Number of pages11
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 1 2000


  • Embolization
  • Posterolateral approach
  • Spine metastases

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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