Upper thoracic dumbbell-shaped tumor resected in one stage posterior approach: case report

Juan P. Cabrera, Esteban Torche, Francisco Luna, Emilio Alarcón, M. Loreto Spencer, Eduardo López, Guillermo Valdés, Antonela Arévalo


Upper thoracic tumors may develop spinal cord compression. By surgery at the time of diagnosis, a neurological deficit can be avoided. However, this particular localization requires a double approach to decompress the spinal cord and thoracic structures. The posterior extracavitary approach results in resection of the spinal canal, the foraminal component, and the extraspinal fragment, but is not routinely used by most neurosurgeons. A 56-year-old woman with a two-month history of axial thoracic pain and cough. The patient has a normal neurological examination. Thoracic computed tomography (CT) scan with contrast agent was performed, evincing a dumbbell-shaped tumor on the left T3–T4. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) confirms the diagnosis, showing a 4 cm diameter tumor that compresses the spinal cord without myelopathy. The surgery was performed posteriorly, with costotransversectomy, allowing complete resection under intraoperative neurophysiological monitoring. The patient developed no thoracic or neurological complications. One-stage posterior approach is possible and effective during the treatment of the upper thoracic dumbbell-shaped tumors, avoiding a change in surgical position, thoracic morbidity, and dependence on assisting surgeons.