Background: Oncologic resections involving both the spine and chest wall commonly require immediate soft-tissue reconstruction. The authors hypothesized that reconstructions of composite resections involving both the thoracic spine and chest wall would have a higher complication rate than reconstructions for resections limited to the thoracic spine alone. Methods: The authors performed a retrospective analysis of all consecutive patients who underwent a thoracic vertebrectomy and soft-tissue reconstruction from 2002 to 2017. Patients were divided into two groups: those whose defect was limited to the thoracic spine and those who required a composite resection involving the chest wall. Results: One hundred patients were included. Composite resection patients had larger defects, as indicated by a greater incidence of multilevel vertebrectomies (70.2 percent versus 17 percent; p = 0.001). Thoracic spine patients were older (58.2 ± 10.4 years versus 48.6 ± 13.9 years; p < 0.001) and had a greater incidence of metastatic disease (88.7 percent versus 38.3 percent; p = 0.001). Univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses demonstrated that composite resections were not significantly associated with a higher rate of surgical, medical, or overall complications. Multivariate logistic regression analysis of composite resection subgroup demonstrated that flap separation of the spinal cord from the intrapleural space was protective against complications (OR, 0.22; 95 percent CI, 0.05 to 0.81; p = 0.03). Conclusions: Despite the large defect size in composite resection patients, there was no increase in complications compared to thoracic spine patients. In composite resection patients, separating the exposed spinal cord from the intrapleural space with well-vascularized soft tissue was protective against complications. CLINICAL QUESTION/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Risk, II.
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