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The outcome and survival of palliative surgery in thoraco-lumbar spinal metastases: contemporary retrospective cohort study



To evaluate outcome and survival and to identify prognostic variables for patients surgically treated for spinal metastases.


A retrospective study was performed on 86 patients, surgically treated for spinal metastases. Preoperative analyses of the ASIA and spinal instability neoplastic scores (SINS) were performed. Survival curves of different prognostic variables were made by Kaplan–Meier analysis and the variables entered in a Cox proportional hazards model to determine their significance on survival. The correlation between preoperative radiotherapy and postoperative wound infections was also evaluated.


Survival analysis was performed on 81 patients, 37 women and 44 men. Five patients were excluded due to missing data. Median overall survival was 38 weeks [95 % confidence interval (CI) 27.5–48.5 weeks], with a 3-month survival rate of 81.5 %. Breast tumor had the best median survival of 127 weeks and lung tumor the worst survival of 18 weeks. Univariate analysis showed tumor type, preoperative ASIA score (p = 0.01) and visceral metastases (p = 0.18) were significant prognostic variables for survival. Colon tumors had 5.53 times hazard ratio compared to patients with breast tumor. ASIA-C score had more than 13.03 times the hazard ratio compared to patients with an ASIA-E score. Retrospective analysis of the SINS scores showed 34 patients with a score of 13–18 points, 44 patients with a score of 7–12 points, and 1 patient with a score of 6 points. Preoperative radiotherapy had no influence on the postoperative incidence of deep surgical wound infections (p = 0.37).


Patients with spinal metastases had a median survival of 38 weeks postoperative. The primary tumor type and ASIA score were significant prognostic factors for survival. Preoperative radiotherapy neither had influence on survival nor did it constitute a risk for postoperative surgical wound infections.

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Correspondence to T. U. Jiya.

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Nemelc, R.M., Stadhouder, A., van Royen, B.J. et al. The outcome and survival of palliative surgery in thoraco-lumbar spinal metastases: contemporary retrospective cohort study. Eur Spine J 23, 2272–2278 (2014).

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  • Spine
  • Metastasis
  • Surgical treatment
  • Prognosis