How Does the Level of Nerve Root Resection in En Bloc Sacrectomy Influence Patient-Reported Outcomes?

Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2017 Mar;475(3):607-616. doi: 10.1007/s11999-016-4794-3.


Background: For patients with sacral tumors, who are well enough for surgery, en bloc resection is the preferred treatment. Survival, postoperative complications, and recurrent rates have been described, but patient-reported outcomes often are not included in these studies.

Questions/purposes: The purposes of this study were (1) to compare patient-reported outcomes after en bloc sacrectomy, based on the level of sacral nerve root resection, in terms of mental health, physical health, bowel function, and sexual function; and (2) to assess differences in terms of mental health, physical health, and pain between patients with and without a colostomy.

Methods: A total of 74 patients, of whom 58 (78%) were diagnosed with chordoma, were surveyed between February 2012 and October 2014. This represented 48% of patients with sacral chordoma who were alive and who had been treated with a transverse sacral resection between June 2000 and August 2013 at three institutions with a minimum followup of 6 months (mean, 59 months; range, 6-255 months). We chose 6 months because we believe that neurologic deficits generally are stable by this point and that patients generally have recovered from the operation by this time. Patients were divided into five groups based on the most caudal nerve root spared: L5 (N = 10), S1 (N = 22), S2 (N = 17), S3 (N = 18), and S4 (N = 7). Only postoperative outcomes were collected using the National institute of Health's Patient Reported Measurement Information System (PROMIS) Global Health survey, PROMIS Pain Interference survey, PROMIS Pain Intensity survey, PROMIS Sexual Function survey, and the Modified Obstruction and Defecation Score survey.

Results: Differences between two adjacent levels were found in terms of mental health, physical health, and sexual function. Patients in whom the S2 nerve roots were spared had a lower mental health score (median = 44, interquartile range [IQR] = 41-51) than patients in whom the S3 nerve roots were spared (median = 53, IQR = 48-56, q = 0.049). Patients in whom the S2 nerve roots were spared had a slightly lower physical health score (median = 42, IQR = 40-51) than patients in whom the S3 nerve roots were spared (median = 47, IQR = 45-54, q = 0.043). Patients in whom the S1 roots were spared (median = 1.0, range = 1.0-1.0) had a lower orgasm score than patients in whom the S2 nerve roots were spared (median = 3, range = 2-5, q = 0.027). No differences in terms of mental health, physical health, or pain were found between the colostomy group and the no colostomy group.

Conclusions: The combination of our findings can be used to further educate patients and discuss expectations. In an operative setting, these data can be considered when deciding to place a colostomy.

Level of evidence: Level III, therapeutic study.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chordoma / pathology
  • Chordoma / physiopathology
  • Chordoma / surgery*
  • Colostomy
  • Defecation
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Motility
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurosurgical Procedures* / adverse effects
  • Orthopedic Procedures* / adverse effects
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain, Postoperative / diagnosis
  • Pain, Postoperative / etiology
  • Patient Reported Outcome Measures*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Recovery of Function
  • Sacrum / pathology
  • Sacrum / physiopathology
  • Sacrum / surgery*
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Spinal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Spinal Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Spinal Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Spinal Nerve Roots / pathology
  • Spinal Nerve Roots / physiopathology
  • Spinal Nerve Roots / surgery*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States
  • Young Adult