Preoperative superselective arteriolar embolization: a new approach to enhance resectability of spinal tumors

Neurosurgery. 1990 Nov;27(5):755-9.


The extent of surgical resection of spinal tumors is frequently limited by blood loss and technical difficulty associated with the vascularity of the tumors. We report here the use of superselective percutaneous arterial embolization to reduce the rate of blood loss at the time of surgical resection and enhance resectability. The types of tumors treated were metastatic renal carcinoma, metastatic thyroid carcinoma, metastatic melanoma, and giant cell tumor of the sacrum. Two of the patients required repeated embolization and surgery for recurrent symptoms. The estimated blood loss in seven of nine procedures performed on the six patients ranged from 300 to 800 ml, after which no transfusion was required. In two procedures, extensive resection of very large tumors resulted in larger losses of blood, and postoperative transfusion was necessary. No significant complications of embolization or surgery occurred. A key factor in our embolization technique is the use of microfibrillar collagen, which allows occlusion of tumor vessels as small as 20 microns and may prevent reconstitution of the embolized vessels by collateral flow. We conclude that preoperative arterial embolization enhances the resectability of a variety of spinal tumors by reducing intraoperative blood loss. This may provide an additional benefit by reducing the risk related to postoperative transfusion. By permitting a more aggressive surgical approach, the use of preoperative embolization also has the potential to improve outcome in patients with spinal tumors.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arterioles
  • Blood Loss, Surgical / prevention & control
  • Catheters, Indwelling
  • Collagen / administration & dosage
  • Collagen / therapeutic use
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Embolization, Therapeutic* / instrumentation
  • Embolization, Therapeutic* / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Preoperative Care
  • Spinal Neoplasms / blood supply
  • Spinal Neoplasms / surgery
  • Spinal Neoplasms / therapy*


  • Collagen