Balloon kyphoplasty in the treatment of metastatic tumors of the upper thoracic spine

Mohammed Eleraky, Ioannis Papanastassiou, Matthias Setzer, Ali A. Baaj, Nam D. Tran, Frank D. Vrionis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Object. Balloon kyphoplasty has recently been shown to be effective in providing rapid pain relief and enhancing health-related quality of life in patients with metastatic spinal tumors. When performed to treat lesions of the upper thoracic spine, kyphoplasty poses certain technical challenges because of the smaller size of the pedicle and vertebral bodies. Fluoroscopic visualization is also difficult due to interference of the shoulder. The authors' objective in the present study was to evaluate their approach and the results of balloon kyphoplasty in the upper thoracic spine in patients with metastatic spinal disease. Methods. Fourteen patients underwent kyphoplasty via an extrapedicular approach to treat metastatic tumors in the upper (T1-5) thoracic spine. Electrodiagnostic monitoring (somatosensory and motor evoked potentials) was used in 5 cases. Three levels were treated in 7 cases, 2 levels in 2 cases, and 1 level in 5 cases. In 3 cases access was bilateral, whereas in 11 cases access was unilateral. The procedure took an average of 25 minutes per treated level, and the mean amount of cement applied was 3 ml per level. Four patients were discharged from the hospital on the day of the procedure, and 10 patients went home after 24 hours. Results. All patients exhibited marked improvement in mean visual analog scale scores (preoperative score 79 vs postoperative score 30, respectively) and Oswestry Disability Index scores (83 vs 33, respectively). The mean kyphotic angle was 25.03° preoperatively, whereas the mean postoperative angle was 22.65° (p > 0.3). At latest follow-up, the mean kyphotic angle did not differ significantly from the postoperative kyphotic angle (26.3°, p > 0.1). No neurological deficits or lung-related complications (pneumothorax or hemothorax) were encountered in any of the patients. Polymethylmethacrylate cement extravasations were observed in 3 (10%) of 30 treated vertebral bodies without any sequelae. By a mean follow-up of 16 months, no patients had experienced an adjacent-level fracture. Conclusions. Balloon kyphoplasty of the upper thoracic spine via an extrapedicular approach is an efficient and safe minimally invasive procedure that may provide immediate and long-term pain relief and improvement in functional ability. It is technically challenging and has the potential for serious complications. With a fundamental knowledge of anatomy, as well as an ability to interpret fluoroscopy images, one can feasibly and safely perform balloon kyphoplasty in the upper thoracic spine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)372-376
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery: Spine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • Kyphoplasty
  • Metastasis
  • Upper thoracic spine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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