Surgical management of spinal metastases: analysis of prognostic factors during a 10-year experience.

Richard B. North, Vito R. LaRocca, Jacob Schwartz, Catherine A. North, Marianna Zahurak, Randy F. Davis, Paul C. McAfee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


OBJECT: Refinement of surgical techniques, especially anterior approaches, for the management of spinal metastases has improved patient outcomes, despite the fact that a complete analysis of the prognostic factors that would inform patient selection has not been undertaken. The authors sought to identify such prognostic factors for neurological outcome and life expectancy in patients with spinal metastases. METHODS: The authors used Kaplan-Meier techniques, log-rank comparisons, and a multivariate model stratified by tumor type to identify prognostic factors for duration of ability to walk and survival in patients who underwent surgical treatment for spinal metastases during a decade when all current treatment options were available. Preoperatively, 53 (87%) of the 61 patients in the study population suffered neurological symptoms (for example, weakness) and 52 (85%) were ambulatory. Postoperatively, 59 (97%) were ambulatory. Most patients who survived 6 months (81%) remained ambulatory, as did 66% of those alive at 1.6 years. The median postoperative survival was 10 months. The risk factors for loss of ambulation were preoperative loss of ambulatory ability, recurrent or persistent disease after primary radiotherapy of the operative site, a procedure other than corpectomy, and tumor type other than breast cancer. Prognostic factors for reduced survival were surgical intervention extending over two or more spinal segments, recurrent or persistent disease after primary radiotherapy involving the operative site, diagnosis other than breast cancer, and a cervical spinal procedure. CONCLUSIONS: The results of this analysis allowed the authors to create a simple prognostic factor scoring system that can be applied to individual patients. The positive experience derived from this study supports an expanded role for the surgical treatment of metastatic spinal disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)564-573
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of neurosurgery. Spine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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