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Aneurysmal Bone Cyst of the Mobile Spine: Report on 41 Cases

Boriani, Stefano MD*; De Iure, Federico MD*; Campanacci, Laura MD*; Gasbarrini, Alessandro MD*; Bandiera, Stefano MD*; Biagini, Roberto MD; Bertoni, Franco MD§; Picci, Piero MD

Case Study

Study Design. Forty-one cases of aneurysmal bone cyst of the mobile spine were retrospectively reviewed.

Objectives. To evaluate the role of surgical and nonsurgical treatment of aneurysmal bone cyst of the spine.

Summary of Background Data. Ten to 30% of aneurysmal bone cysts arise from the mobile spine, frequently occurring in pediatric patients. The course of the disease depends on the aggressiveness of the tumor, as well as the treatment. Intralesional surgery seems to be an effective treatment, as well as radiotherapy and embolization.

Methods. All charts, radiographs, and images were reviewed. The composite information provided by this review allowed for oncologic and surgical staging of these cases. Thirty-two patients underwent curettage (14 of them followed by radiotherapy), four were submitted to selective arterial embolization, three received radiotherapy alone, and two underwent en bloc excision.

Results. All patients were found alive and disease free at final follow-up evaluation. Two recurrences followed one incomplete curettage and one embolization. The combination of curettage and radiotherapy, although effective, showed the greatest incidence of late axial deformity. Selective arterial embolization was curative in three of four cases and did not affect the possibility of surgery in case of local recurrence.

Conclusions. If confirmed on larger series, selective arterial embolization seems to be the first treatment option for spine aneurysmal bone cyst, because of the low cost-to-benefit ratio. Diagnosis must be certain, based on pathognomonic radiographic pattern or on histologic study.— In case of neurologic involvement, pathologic fracture, technical impossibility of performing embolization, or local recurrence after at least two embolization procedures, complete intralesional excision would be the therapy of choice.

From the *Department of Orthopedics and Traumatology, Maggiore Hospital, Bologna; and the †1st Orthopedic Clinic, the ‡Laboratorio di Ricerca Oncologica, and the §Department of Pathology, Rizzoli Institute, Bologna, Italy.

Acknowledgment date: September 2, 1999.

First revision date: January 4, 2000.

Acceptance date: March 20, 2000.

Address reprint requests to

Stefano Boriani, MD

Primario Divisione Ortopedia e Traumatologia

Ospedale Maggiore

Largo Nigrisoli 2

40100 Bologna



Device status category: 1.

Conflict of interest category: 12.

© 2001 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.