Laurent Coubeau, Cecile Boulanger, Frederic Lecouvet, Mo Saffarini, Xavier Banse

December 2020, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 145 - 148 Case Report Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-019-06238-0

First Online: 12 December 2019

Study design

Case report.


The authors used spine shortening as an alternative strategy to intercalary graft fixation to restore permanent spine stability for a 17-month-old infant who received total en bloc spondylectomy (TES) of T11 to treat an embryonic rhabdomyosarcoma. TES involves complete removal of vertebra, compensated by spine reconstruction using intercalary allografts and permanent posterior instrumentation, which is not possible for skeletally immature patients with high growth potential and non-ossified vertebrae.


Surgery was performed over two consecutive days. During the first day, the tumor was released from its dorsal attachments through the posterior approach. During the second day, the tumor was dissected and excised through the anterior approach, leaving a gap between T10 and T12. The two vertebrae were then drawn toward each other until the gap was bridged. The dural sac slipped into the canal under T10 and T12 with no observable kinking.


Fifteen weeks after surgery, thoraco-abdominal CT confirmed fusion of the T10 and T12 vertebral bodies. Three years later, the patient lives a normal life with no major neurological deficits or recurrence of sarcoma.


This case report is the first to demonstrate the feasibility of TES with spine shortening of an entire thoracic segment without spine kinking or damage in an infant. This unprecedented surgical technique allowed complete removal of an embryonic rhabdomyosarcoma, while granting rapid stability and growth potential.

Level of evidence


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