Short-segment cement-augmented fixation in open separation surgery of metastatic epidural spinal cord compression: initial experience

William C. Newman, Anubhav G. Amin, Jemma Villavieja, Ilya Laufer, Mark H. Bilsky, Ori Barzilai*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE High-grade metastatic epidural spinal cord compression from radioresistant tumor histologies is often treated with separation surgery and adjuvant stereotactic body radiation therapy. Historically, long-segment fixation is performed during separation surgery with posterior transpedicular fixation of a minimum of 2 spinal levels superior and inferior to the decompression. Previous experience with minimal access surgery techniques and percutaneous stabilization have highlighted reduced morbidity as an advantage to the use of shorter fixation constructs. Cement augmentation of pedicle screws is an attractive option for enhanced stabilization while performing shorter fixation. Herein, the authors describe their initial experience of open separation surgery using short-segment cement-augmented pedicle screw fixation for spinal reconstruction. METHODS The authors performed a retrospective chart review of patients undergoing open (i.e., nonpercutaneous, minimal access surgery) separation surgery for high-grade epidural spinal cord compression using cement-augmented pedicle screws at single levels adjacent to the decompression level(s). Patient demographics, treatment data, operative complications, and short-term radiographic outcomes were evaluated. RESULTS Overall, 44 patients met inclusion criteria with radiographic follow-up at a mean of 8.5 months. Involved levels included 19 thoracic, 5 thoracolumbar, and 20 lumbar. Cement augmentation through fenestrated pedicle screws was performed in 30 patients, and a vertebroplasty-type approach was used in the remaining 14 patients to augment screw purchase. One (2%) patient required an operative revision for a hardware complication. Three (7%) nonoperative radiographic hardware complications occurred, including 1 pathologic fracture at the index level causing progressive kyphosis and 2 incidences of haloing around a single screw. There were 2 wound complications that were managed conservatively without operative intervention. No cement-related complications occurred. CONCLUSIONS Open posterolateral decompression utilizing short-segment cement-augmented pedicle screws is a viable alternative to long-segment instrumentation for reconstruction following separation surgery for metastatic spine tumors. Studies with longer follow-up are needed to determine the rates of delayed complications and the durability of these outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalNeurosurgical Focus
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • cement augmentation
  • epidural spinal cord compression
  • metastatic disease
  • posterolateral decompression
  • spinal fixation


Dive into the research topics of 'Short-segment cement-augmented fixation in open separation surgery of metastatic epidural spinal cord compression: initial experience'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this