The Spinal Instability Neoplastic Score: Impact on Oncologic Decision-Making

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2016 Oct 15:41 Suppl 20:S231-S237. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0000000000001822.


Study design: Systematic literature review.

Objective: To address the following questions in a systematic literature review: 1. How is spinal neoplastic instability defined or classified in the literature before and after the introduction of the Spinal Instability Neoplastic Score (SINS)? 2. How has SINS affected daily clinical practice? 3. Can SINS be used as a prognostic tool?

Summary of background data: Spinal neoplastic-related instability was defined in 2010 and simultaneously SINS was introduced as a novel tool with criteria agreed upon by expert consensus to assess the degree of spinal stability.

Methods: PubMed, Embase, and clinical trial databases were searched with the key words "spinal neoplasm," "spinal instability," "spinal instability neoplastic score," and synonyms. Studies describing spinal neoplastic-related instability were eligible for inclusion. Primary outcomes included studies describing and/or defining neoplastic-related instability, SINS, and studies using SINS as a prognostic factor.

Results: The search identified 1414 articles, of which 51 met the inclusion criteria. No precise definition or validated assessment tool was used specific to spinal neoplastic-related instability prior to the introduction of SINS. Since the publication of SINS in 2010, the vast majority of the literature regarding spinal instability has used SINS to assess or describe instability. Twelve studies specifically investigated the prognostic value of SINS in patients who underwent radiotherapy or surgery.

Conclusion: No consensus could be determined regarding the definition, assessment, or reporting of neoplastic-related instability before introduction of SINS. Defining spinal neoplastic-related instability and the introduction of SINS have led to improved uniform reporting within the spinal neoplastic literature. Currently, the prognostic value of SINS is controversial.

Level of evidence: N/A.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Decision-Making*
  • Humans
  • Joint Instability / pathology
  • Joint Instability / physiopathology
  • Prognosis
  • Spinal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Spinal Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Spine / pathology
  • Spine / physiopathology*