Metastatic Spine Disease: Should Patients With Short Life Expectancy Be Denied Surgical Care? An International Retrospective Cohort Study

Neurosurgery. 2020 Aug 1;87(2):303-311. doi: 10.1093/neuros/nyz472.


Background: Despite our inability to accurately predict survival in many cancer patients, a life expectancy of at least 3 mo is historically necessary to be considered for surgical treatment of spinal metastases.

Objective: To compare health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in patients surviving <3 mo after surgical treatment to patients surviving >3 mo to assess the validity of this inclusion criteria.

Methods: Patients who underwent surgery for spinal metastases between August 2013 and May 2017 were retrospectively identified from an international cohort study. HRQOL was evaluated using generic and disease-specific outcome tools at baseline and at 6 and 12 wk postsurgery. The primary outcome was the HRQOL at 6 wk post-treatment measured by the Spine Oncology Study Group Outcomes Questionnaire (SOSGOQ).

Results: A total of 253 patients were included: 40 patients died within the first 3 mo after surgery and 213 patients survived more than 3 mo. Patients surviving <3 mo after surgery presented with lower baseline performance status. Adjusted analyses for baseline performance status did not reveal a significant difference in HRQOL between both groups at 6 wk post-treatment. No significant difference in patient satisfaction at 6 wk with regard to their treatment could be detected between both groups.

Conclusion: When controlled for baseline performance status, quality of life 6 wk after surgery for spinal metastasis is independent of survival. To optimize improvement in HRQOL for this patient population, baseline performance status should take priority over expected survival in the surgical decision-making process.

Keywords: Health-related quality of life; Life expectancy; Metastatic spine disease; Surgical care.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Expectancy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Quality of Life*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spinal Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Spinal Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome*