Decision making in primary sacral tumors.


BACKGROUND CONTEXT Primary tumors of the sacrum are extremely rare lesions. Their management is governed by an interplay of complex factors. Appropriate decision making is crucial to obtain the best possible outcome in terms of maximizing disease control while attempting to minimize neurological dysfunction. PURPOSE Our study presents the results of a group of patients with primary tumors of the sacrum who were surgically treated by the same multidisciplinary team at a specialist oncology center over a relatively short period of time (5 years). STUDY DESIGN/SETTING Patients were identified by a retrospective review from a prospectively maintained database. PATIENT SAMPLE Between January 2000 and December 2005, 17 primary sacral tumors were surgically treated at our institution, a referral center for oncology. OUTCOME MEASURES We evaluated the outcome in terms of local disease control, residual neurological dysfunction, and complications as a result of surgical intervention. METHODS There were 12 males and 5 females. The diagnosis included chordoma in six patients, giant cell tumor in seven patients, aneurysmal bone cyst in two patients, and a chondrosarcoma and an osteoblastoma in one patient each. Sixteen of these patients were analyzed. Four lesions had their upper extent at S1, six lesions had their upper extent at S2, four lesions had their upper extent at S3, and two lesions were below S3. Ten cases were treated with wide excision and underwent partial sacral amputations. Five cases had a midline sacral amputation through S1, three through S2, and two through S3. Six benign lesions were treated with curettage. None of the patients received chemotherapy. Four cases received postoperative radiation. The follow-up duration ranged from 18 to 44 months with a mean of 31 months. RESULTS None of the six patients who presented with loss of bladder and bowel control regained it after surgery. Of the 10 patients who had intact bladder and bowel control preoperatively only 4 retained bladder and bowel control postoperatively. Of the six patients who lost bladder and bowel control postoperatively, four patients had a wide excision where bilateral S2 roots were sacrificed. The other two cases in whom the disease extended up to S1 had curettage. Local recurrence occurred in 4 of the 10 lesions treated with wide excision. All the patients who had inadequate margins recurred. Local recurrence occurred in two of the six lesions treated with curettage. Three of the four cases who received postoperative irradiation developed recurrence. Our wound complication rate was 13%. CONCLUSION Wide resection with adequate margins gives the best chance of local control and should be the surgery of choice for all malignant primary sacral tumors and in benign lesions involving lower segments when preservation of both S3 roots is possible. Intralesional curettage has a higher risk of local recurrence without providing the certainty of retaining neurological function. To retain bladder and bowel control and minimize neurological dysfunction, it may be worthwhile managing benign sacral tumors that extend above S3 with serial embolization. The administration of parenteral bisphosphonates may prove beneficial in cases of giant cell tumor managed with serial embolization.


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