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Perioperative complications of total en bloc spondylectomy for spinal tumours

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To evaluate the perioperative complications associated with total en bloc spondylectomy (TES) in patients with spinal tumours, based on the extent and level of tumour resection.


In total, 307 patients who underwent TES in a single centre were reviewed retrospectively. There were 164 male and 143 female patients with a mean age at the time of surgery of 52.9 years (SD 13.3). A total of 225 patients were operated on for spinal metastases, 34 for a malignant primary tumour, 41 for an aggressive benign tumour, and seven with a primary of unknown origin. The main lesion was located in the thoracic spine in 213, and in the lumbar spine in 94 patients. There were 97 patients who underwent TES for more than two consecutive vertebrae.


Major and minor perioperative complications were observed in 122 (39.7%) and 84 (27.4%) patients respectively. The breakdown of complications was as follows: bleeding more than 2,000 ml in 60 (19.5%) patients, hardware failure in 82 (26.7%), neurological in 46 (15.0%), surgical site infection in 23 (7.5%), wound dehiscence in 16 (5.2%), cerebrospinal fluid leakage in 45 (14.7%), respiratory in 52 (16.9%), cardiovascular in 11 (3.6%), digestive in 19 (6.2%)/ The mortality within two months of surgery was four (1.3%). The total number of complications per operation were 1.01 (SD 1.0) in the single vertebral resection group and 1.56 (SD 1.2) in the group with more than two vertebral resections. Cardiovascular and respiratory complications, along with hardware failure were statistically higher in the group who had more than two vertebrae resected. Also, in this group the amount of bleeding in patients with a lumbar lesion or respiratory complication in patients with a thoracic lesion, were statistically higher. Multivariate analysis showed that using a combined anterior and posterior approach, when more than two vertebral resections were significant independent factors.


The characteristics of perioperative complications after TES were different depending on the extent and level of the tumour resection. In addition to preoperative clinical and pathological factors, it is therefore important to consider these factors in patients who undergo en bloc resection for spinal tumours.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2021;103-B(5):976–983.

Correspondence should be sent to Satoru Demura. E-mail:

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