Background: Complication avoidance is paramount to the success of any surgical procedure. In the case of spine tumor surgery, the risk of complications is increased because of the primary disease process and the radiotherapy and chemotherapeutics used to treat the disease. If complications do occur, then life-saving adjuvant treatment must be delayed or withheld until the issue is resolved, potentially impacting overall disease control. Methods: We reviewed the literature and our own best practices to provide recommendations on complication avoidance as well as the management of complications that may occur. Appropriate workup of suspected complications and treatment algorithms are also discussed. Results: Appropriate patient selection and a multidisciplinary workup are imperative in the setting of spinal tumors. Intraoperative complications may be avoided by employing proper surgical technique and an understanding of the pathological changes in anatomy. Major postoperative issues include wound complications and spinal reconstruction failure. Preoperative surgical planning must include postoperative reconstruction. Patients undergoing spinal tumor resection should be closely monitored for local tumor recurrence, recurrence along the biopsy tract, and for distant metastatic disease. Any suspected recurrence should be closely watched, biopsied if necessary, and promptly treated. Conclusions: Because patients with spinal tumors are normally treated with a multidisciplinary approach, emphasis should be placed on the recognition of surgical complications beyond the surgical setting.
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