Endoscopic decompression of epidural spinal metastasis causing lumbar radiculopathy through a transforaminal approach: report of two cases

Fraser Henderson Jr, Zachary S. Hubbard, Samuel Jones, Jessica Barley, Bruce Frankel


Radiculopathy in patients with metastatic spine disease (MSD) may be palliated with open or microsurgical techniques. However, delay of chemoradiation, infection risk, extended hospitalization periods, and surgical site pain may complicate surgical efforts to improve these patients’ lives. Endoscopic approaches, heretofore used almost exclusively in degenerative spine disease, may also palliate debilitating pain while mitigating the drawbacks of surgical intervention in providing focal tumor debulking. Specimen for histopathologic diagnosis, which is of increasing importance in oncology treatments, may also be obtained by the endoscopic approach. The first case is of a 61-year-old woman with right thigh pain and weakness referable to a foraminal component of metastatic disease who underwent transforaminal endoscopic decompression through a single port with resolution of her primary pain complaint. The second case is of a 50-year-old man with history of urothelial cancer who presented with L5 radicular pain referable to foraminal tumor compression who underwent similar procedure with stabilization of his primary pain complaints. Adequate tissue biopsy was obtained in both cases. Endoscopic technique may allow direct visualization with minimal morbidity for effective decompression of symptomatic metastatic disease resulting from compression of the exiting and traversing nerve roots. Patients compromised from systemic disease may benefit from this less invasive approach that requires neither endotracheal intubation nor extended hospital stay.