Local response and pathologic fractures following stereotactic body radiotherapy versus three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy for spinal metastases - a randomized controlled trial

BMC Cancer. 2018 Aug 31;18(1):859. doi: 10.1186/s12885-018-4777-8.


Background: This was a prespecified secondary analysis of a randomized trial, which analyzed bone density following stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) versus conventional three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy (3DCRT) as part of palliative management of painful spinal metastases.

Methods: Fifty-five patients were enrolled in this single-institutional randomized exploratory trial (NCT02358720). Participants were randomly assigned to receive SBRT (single-fraction 24 Gy) or 3DCRT (30 Gy/10 fractions). Quantitative bone density was evaluated at baseline, 3 and 6 months in both irradiated and unirradiated spinal bodies, along with rates of pathologic fractures and vertebral compression fractures.

Results: As compared to baseline, bone density became significantly higher at 3 and 6 months following SBRT by a median of 33.8% and 72.1%, respectively (p < 0.01 for both). These figures in the 3DCRT cohort were 32.9% and 41.2%, respectively (p < 0.01 for both). There were no statistical differences in bone density between SBRT and 3DCRT at 3 (p = 0.629) or 6 months (p = 0.327). Subgroup analysis of osteolytic metastases showed an increase in bone density relative to baseline in the SBRT (but not 3DCRT) arm. Bone density in unaffected vertebrae did not show substantial changes in either group. The 3-month incidence of new pathological fractures was 8.7% in the SBRT arm vs. 4.3% in the 3DCRT arm.

Conclusions: Despite high ablative doses in the SBRT arm, the significant increase in bone density after 3 and 6 months was similar to that of 3DCRT. Our trial demonstrated a moderate rate of subsequent pathological fracture after SBRT. Future randomized investigations with larger sample sizes are recommended.

Trial registration: www.clinicaltrials.gov : NCT02358720 on 9nd of February 2015.

Keywords: Bone density; Bone metastases; Palliative radiotherapy; Spine; Stereotactic body radiation therapy.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Bone Density
  • Female
  • Fractures, Spontaneous / diagnosis*
  • Fractures, Spontaneous / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Palliative Care
  • Radiosurgery
  • Radiotherapy, Conformal
  • Spinal Fractures / diagnosis*
  • Spinal Fractures / etiology*
  • Spinal Neoplasms / complications
  • Spinal Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Spinal Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Treatment Outcome