Survival of cancer patients continues to improve with systemic treatment advancements, leading to an increase in cancer-related complications such as pathological spinal fractures. In this study, the authors aimed to evaluate the outcome of percutaneous stabilization with cement augmentation of the pedicle screws in the management of patients with metastatic cancer to the spine.
The authors reviewed a retrospective case series of 74 patients with symptomatic pathological spine fractures treated with cement-augmented pedicle screws implanted with a percutaneous technique. The mean imaging follow-up was 11.3 months. Data on demographics, clinical outcomes, and complications were collected. Cement extravasation, spinal hardware integrity, and fusion rates were assessed on CT scans.
Among 50 patients with follow-up imaging, 23 patients (46%) showed facet joint fusion. The length of segmental stabilization was not a significant predictor of the occurrence of fusion. Pre- or postoperative radiation therapy, postoperative chemotherapy, and the location of spinal lesions did not have a statistically significant effect on the occurrence of fusion. Patients older than 60 years of age were more likely to have fusion across facet joints compared with younger patients. There was a significant difference in the mean visual analog scale pain score, with 6.28 preoperatively and 3.41 postoperatively, regardless of fusion status (p < 0.001). Cement extravasation was seen in 51% of the cohort, but in all instances, patients remained asymptomatic. Most importantly, the incidence of hardware failure was low (4%).
Percutaneous fixation with cement-augmented pedicle screws in patients with pathological spine fractures provides an improvement in mechanical back pain, with a low incidence of failure, and in some patients, spontaneous facet fusion was observed. Further research is necessary with regard to both short-term benefits and long-term outcomes.