Predicting 90-Day and 1-Year Mortality in Spinal Metastatic Disease: Development and Internal Validation

Neurosurgery. 2019 Oct 1;85(4):E671-E681. doi: 10.1093/neuros/nyz070.


Background: Increasing prevalence of metastatic disease has been accompanied by increasing rates of surgical intervention. Current tools have poor to fair predictive performance for intermediate (90-d) and long-term (1-yr) mortality.

Objective: To develop predictive algorithms for spinal metastatic disease at these time points and to provide patient-specific explanations of the predictions generated by these algorithms.

Methods: Retrospective review was conducted at 2 large academic medical centers to identify patients undergoing initial operative management for spinal metastatic disease between January 2000 and December 2016. Five models (penalized logistic regression, random forest, stochastic gradient boosting, neural network, and support vector machine) were developed to predict 90-d and 1-yr mortality.

Results: Overall, 732 patients were identified with 90-d and 1-yr mortality rates of 181 (25.1%) and 385 (54.3%), respectively. The stochastic gradient boosting algorithm had the best performance for 90-d mortality and 1-yr mortality. On global variable importance assessment, albumin, primary tumor histology, and performance status were the 3 most important predictors of 90-d mortality. The final models were incorporated into an open access web application able to provide predictions as well as patient-specific explanations of the results generated by the algorithms. The application can be found at

Conclusion: Preoperative estimation of 90-d and 1-yr mortality was achieved with assessment of more flexible modeling techniques such as machine learning. Integration of these models into applications and patient-centered explanations of predictions represent opportunities for incorporation into healthcare systems as decision tools in the future.

Keywords: 1-year; 90-day; Explanation; Machine learning; Prognosis; Spine metastasis; Survival.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Algorithms*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Machine Learning / standards*
  • Machine Learning / trends*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neural Networks, Computer
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spinal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Spinal Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Survival Rate / trends
  • Time Factors