Spinal metastases 2021: a review of the current state of the art and future directions

Spine J. 2021 Sep;21(9):1414-1429. doi: 10.1016/j.spinee.2021.04.012. Epub 2021 Apr 19.


Spinal metastases are an increasing societal health burden secondary to improvements in systemic therapy. Estimates indicate that 100,000 or more people have symptomatic spine metastases requiring management. While open surgery and external beam radiotherapy have been the pillars of treatment, there is growing interest in more minimally invasive technologies (eg separation surgery) and non-operative interventions (eg percutaneous cementoplasty, stereotactic radiosurgery). The great expansion of these alternatives to open surgery and the prevalence of adjuvant therapeutic options means that treatment decision making is now complex and reliant upon multidisciplinary collaboration. To help facilitate construction of care plans that meet patient goals and expectations, clinical decision aids and prognostic scores have been developed. These have been shown to have superior predictive value relative to more classic prediction models and may become an increasingly important aspect of the clinical practice of spinal oncology. Here we overview current therapeutic advances in the management of spine metastases and highlight emerging areas for research. Given the rapid advancements in surgical technologies and adjuvants, the field is likely to undergo further transformative changes in the coming decade.

Keywords: Ablation; Cement augmentation; Chemotherapy; Decision making; Immunotherapy; MIS; Prediction models; Prognostic tools; Radiation therapy; SBRT; Separation surgery; Spinal metastases; Spine surgery.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Radiosurgery*
  • Spinal Neoplasms* / surgery