Evaluation of the relevance of surgery in a retrospective case series of patients who underwent the surgical treatment of a symptomatic spine metastasis from lung cancer
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The management of spine metastases is an increasing concern for spine surgeons. When considering surgery, it is crucial to ensure that its iatrogenic effects will not exceed its potential benefits, particularly in frail patients with short life expectancy. Among all prognostic factors, the primary site of cancer is the most important, lung cancer being the poorest. Although surgery has shown its effectiveness in the management of spine metastases, there is a lack of studies focusing on lung cancer alone.
To assess the effectiveness and safety of surgery in the management of symptomatic spine metastases from lung cancer.
We retrospectively reviewed all patients (n = 53) who underwent surgery for spine metastasis from lung cancer at the Lille University Hospital between January 2005 and December 2011. Patients for whom surgery was effective to restore or preserve ambulation, to relieve pain, and to ensure stability without severe complication were considered “surgical success”.
No patient was lost to follow-up and vital status data were available for all patients. The median survival was 2.1 months and was not influenced by the surgical success (p = 0.1766). We reported seven major complications in seven patients, including three epidural haematoma, two massive pulmonary embolisms and two deaths from cardiopulmonary failure. The surgical success rate was 49 % and on univariate analysis, the factors that have influenced the postoperative outcome were the KPS (p < 0.001), the Frankel grade (p = 0.0217) and the delay between the cancer diagnosis and the occurrence of spine metastases (p = 0.0216).
A strict patient selection is required to limit the iatrogenic effect of surgery, which may alter the quality of life of these frail patients with limited life expectancy.
KeywordsMetastasis Lung cancer Spinal cord compression Complications Surgical success
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
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