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J Neurosurg Spine. 2012 May;16(5):463-70. doi: 10.3171/2012.2.SPINE11128. Epub 2012 Mar 9.

Minimally invasive lateral extracavitary corpectomy: cadaveric evaluation model and report of 3 clinical cases.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, USA.



In this paper, the authors' goal was to demonstrate the clinical and technical nuances of a minimally invasive lateral extracavitary approach (MI-LECA) for thoracic corpectomy and anterior column reconstruction.


A cadaveric feasibility study and the subsequent application of this approach in 3 clinical cases are reported. Six procedures were completed in 3 human cadavers. Minimally invasive, extrapleural thoracic corpectomies were performed with the aid of a 24-mm tubular retraction system, using a posterolateral incision and an oblique approach angle. Fluoroscopy and postprocedural CT scanning, using 3D volumetric averaging software, was used to evaluate the degree of bone removal and decompression. Three clinical cases, including a T-11 burst fracture, a T-7 plasmacytoma, and a T4-5 vertebral body (VB) tuberculosis lesion, were treated using the approach.


At 6 cadaveric levels, the mean circumferential volumetric decompression was 48% ± 16%, and the mean resection of the VB was 72% ± 13%. The mean change in anterior and posterior vertebral height with expansion of the corpectomy cage was 47 and 61 mm, respectively. There were no violations of the pleura or dura. Pedicle screw reliability was 95.8% (23 of 24 screws) with a single lateral breach. All 3 patients in the clinical cohort had excellent clinical outcomes. There was a single pleural tear requiring chest tube drainage. Operative images and a video clip are provided to illustrate the approach.


A minimally invasive lateral extracavitary thoracic corpectomy has the ability to provided excellent spinal cord decompression and VB resection. The procedure can be completed safely and successfully with minimal blood loss and little associated morbidity. This approach has the potential to improve upon established traditional open corridors for posterolateral thoracic corpectomy.

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