Surgical strategy for spinal metastases

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2001 Feb 1;26(3):298-306. doi: 10.1097/00007632-200102010-00016.


Study design: A new surgical strategy for treatment of patients with spinal metastases was designed, and 61 patients were treated based on this strategy.

Objectives: To propose a new surgical strategy for the treatment of patients with spinal metastases.

Summary of background data: A preoperative score composed of six parameters has been proposed by Tokuhashi et al for the prognostic assessment of patients with metastases to the spine. Their scoring system was designed for deciding between excisional or palliative procedures. Recently, aggressive surgery, such as total en bloc spondylectomy for spinal metastases, has been advocated for selected patients. Surgical strategies should include various treatments ranging from wide or marginal excision to palliative treatment with hospice care.

Methods: Sixty-seven patients with spinal metastases who had been treated from 1987-1991 were reviewed, and prognostic factors were evaluated retrospectively (phase 1). A new scoring system for spinal metastases that was designed based on these data consists of three prognostic factors: 1) grade of malignancy (slow growth, 1 point; moderate growth, 2 points; rapid growth, 4 points), 2) visceral metastases (no metastasis, 0 points; treatable, 2 points: untreatable, 4 points), and 3) bone metastases (solitary or isolated, 1 point; multiple, 2 points). These three factors were added together to give a prognostic score between 2-10. The treatment goal for each patient was set according to this prognostic score. The strategy for each patient was decided along with the treatment goal: a prognostic score of 2-3 points suggested a wide or marginal excision for long-term local control; 4-5 points indicated marginal or intralesional excision for middle-term local control; 6-7 points justified palliative surgery for short-term palliation; and 8-10 points indicated nonoperative supportive care. Sixty-one patients were treated prospectively according to this surgical strategy between 1993-1996 (phase 2). The extent of the spinal metastases was stratified using the surgical classification of spinal tumors, and technically appropriate and feasible surgery was performed, such as en bloc spondylectomy, piecemeal thorough excision, curettage, or palliative surgery.

Results: The mean survival time of the 28 patients treated with wide or marginal excision was 38.2 months (26 had successful local control). The mean survival time of the 13 patients treated with intralesional excision was 21.5 months (nine had successful local control). The mean survival time of the 11 patients treated with palliative surgery and stabilization was 10.1 months (eight had successful local control). The mean survival time of the patients with terminal care was 5.3 months.

Conclusions: A new surgical strategy for spinal metastases based on the prognostic scoring system is proposed. This strategy provides appropriate guidelines for treatment in all patients with spinal metastases.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Clinical Protocols
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / pathology
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / therapy*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radiography
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spinal Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Spinal Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Spine / diagnostic imaging
  • Spine / pathology*
  • Spine / surgery*
  • Survival Analysis