Spine-shortening osteotomy for patients with tethered cord syndrome caused by lipomyelomeningocele: Clinical article

Shoichi Kokubun, Hiroshi Ozawa, Toshimi Aizawa, Ngo Minh Ly, Yasuhisa Tanaka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Object. Tethered cord syndrome (TCS) is a disorder involving an abnormal stretching of the tethered spinal cord caused by several pathological conditions and presents with a variety of neurological symptoms. Untethering (tethered cord release) is the gold standard treatment for TCS. However, untethering carries risks of spinal cord injury and postoperative retethering. To avoid these potential risks, the authors applied spine-shortening osteotomy to adult patients with TCS, and report on the surgical procedure and treatment outcomes. Methods. Eight patients with TCS caused by a lipomyelomeningocele were surgically treated by the authors' original procedure of spine-shortening osteotomy. Six patients were male and 2 were females; average age at the time of surgery was 31 years old. Spine-shortening osteotomy was performed at the level of L-1 in all but 2 patients, in whom it was performed at T-12, with spinal fusion between T-12 and L-2 or T-11 and L-1 using a pedicle screw-rod system. The average follow-up period was 6.2 years and the patients' pre- and postoperative conditions were evaluated clinically and radiologically. Results. Preoperatively, all patients displayed severe neurological deficits such as motor disturbance, muscle atrophy, and bladder dysfunction. Several months before surgery, all showed progressive symptoms. Those symptoms showed initial improvement in 6 patients and stabilized in 2 postoperatively, but the improved symptoms worsened again in 4 of the 6 patients. The osteotomized vertebrae were shortened by 21 mm on average, and all spines showed complete bone union without loss of correction. At the final follow-up evaluations, 6 patients showed stabilization as per the modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association score for thoracic myelopathy. Conclusions. Spine-shortening osteotomy successfully helps reduce the spinal cord tension without causing direct neural damage. At minimum, it stabilized the patients' symptoms and/or helped delay neurological deterioration for a period of time. Spine-shortening osteotomy might be a feasible mode of treatment for adult TCS caused by a spinal lipoma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-27
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery: Spine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Jul 1


  • Lipomyelomeningocele
  • Spine-shortening osteotomy
  • Tethered cord syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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