Surgical management of chordomas of the cervical spine

Ignacio J. Barrenechea, Noel I. Perin, Aymara Triana, Jonathan Lesser, Peter Costantino, Chandranath Sen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Object. Chordomas of the cervical spine are rare tumors. Although en bloc resection has proven to be the ideal procedure in other areas, there is controversy regarding this approach in the cervical spine. The goal in this study was to determine whether piecemeal tumor resection was efficient in the management of chordomas that arise in this location. Methods. The authors retrospectively reviewed all 74 cases of chordoma treated by their group. Seven patients with isolated cervical chordomas who were treated between October 1992 and January 2006 were identified. There were four male and three female patients, whose ages ranged from 6 to 61 years (mean 34.4 years). Follow-up duration ranged from 7 to 169 months (median 23 months). All cases were managed using a retrocarotid approach with mobilization of the vertebral artery. When the tumor could not be completely resected via the initial anterior approach, a subsequent posterior resection was performed. Tumor resection was intralesional in all cases, and gross-total tumor resection was achieved in six cases. One patient required a second resection 4 months later. In all cases, a posterior stabilization procedure was performed. Five patients underwent anterior fusion (three with fibular allograft and two with iliac crest), whereas two underwent occipitocervical fusion. In two patients with dedifferentiated chordoma metastasis developed, and one of them died 7 months later. The other patient with metastasis died suddenly at home 26 months postsurgery, presumably from aspiration. At the time of this submission, there were no signs of recurrence in five patients. Conclusions. The authors believe that, in most cases, en bloc resection of cervical chordoma is not feasible. This is due to the tendency of chordomas to involve multiple compartments at the time of diagnosis. In the authors' experience, intralesional radical resection remains an effective surgical approach to this disease entity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)398-406
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery: Spine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Cervical spine
  • Chordoma
  • Surgical approach
  • Vertebral artery


Dive into the research topics of 'Surgical management of chordomas of the cervical spine'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this