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Surgery. 2003 May;133(5):473-8.

Presacral tumors: a practical classification and treatment of a unique and heterogeneous group of diseases.

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Department of Surgery, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel.



Presacral tumors are a rare and diverse group of diseases that originate from the different tissues that comprise the potential presacral space. Because of their relative rarity, confusion exists regarding their clinical presentation, natural history, and treatment. The aim of this study is to describe a single institution's experience with the management of presacral tumors and to suggest a practical method of classification.


Records of all patients who underwent operation for presacral tumors from the years 1991 to 2001 were reviewed. Clinical, pathologic, treatment, and outcome variables were evaluated.


Forty-two patients were included in the study and were divided into 4 groups according to lesion pathology: benign congenital (n = 12), malignant congenital (n = 9), benign acquired (n = 9), and malignant acquired (n = 12). Symptoms were nonspecific, and 26% of the cases were completely asymptomatic. Diagnosis was made with rectal examination and confirmed with pelvic computerized tomographic scan. Surgical approach varied among the different groups, with the posterior approach used mainly for congenital tumors and the anterior approach for acquired. Complete surgical resection of the tumor was obtained in all cases of benign tumors and in 76% of malignant tumors. No postoperative mortality was seen, and complications occurred in 36% (15/42); most were reversible. None of the patients with benign tumors had recurrences, and all are alive at this time. The survival rate of patients with malignant tumors was significantly improved when complete resection was possible.


Classification of presacral tumors into congenital versus acquired and benign versus malignant is simple and efficient. Treatment is complete surgical resection, which can be performed safely with low morbidity and no mortality.

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