Surgical management of bone metastases: quality of evidence and systematic review

Ann Surg Oncol. 2014 Dec;21(13):4081-9. doi: 10.1245/s10434-014-4002-1. Epub 2014 Sep 16.


Background: Surgical management of metastatic bone disease (MBD) is typically reserved for lesions with the highest risk of fracture. However, the high risk of perioperative complications associated with surgery may outweigh the benefits of improved pain and/or function. The goal of this study was to (1) assess the quality of current evidence in this domain; (2) confirm that surgical management of metastases to the long bones and pelvis/acetabulum provides pain relief and improved function; and (3) assess perioperative morbidity and mortality rates.

Methods: We conducted a systematic review of the literature for clinical studies that reported pain relief and function outcomes, as well as perioperative complications and mortality, in patients with MBD to the long bones and/or pelvis/acetabulum treated surgically. Multiple databases were searched up to January 2012. Pooled weighted proportions are reported.

Results: Forty-five studies were included in the final analysis, with 807 patients. All included studies were level IV with 'moderate' overall quality of evidence using the Methodological Index for Non-Randomized Studies scale. Pain relief following surgical management of metastases was 93, 91, and 93 % in the humerus, femur, and pelvis/acetabulum, respectively. Maintained or improved function after surgery was seen in 94, 89, and 94 % in the humerus, femur, and pelvis/acetabulum, respectively. Perioperative complications and mortality were 17 and 4 %, respectively.

Conclusions: Despite the inherent limitations of the current evidence, a benefit for the surgical management of bone metastases to the long bones and pelvis/acetabulum is evident; however, there is still substantial risk of perioperative morbidity and mortality that should be considered.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetabulum* / surgery
  • Bone Neoplasms / mortality
  • Bone Neoplasms / secondary
  • Bone Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Carcinoma / mortality
  • Carcinoma / secondary
  • Carcinoma / surgery*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Femur* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Humerus* / surgery
  • Orthopedic Procedures / methods
  • Pain Management
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sarcoma / mortality
  • Sarcoma / secondary
  • Sarcoma / surgery*
  • Treatment Outcome