Article Abstract

Functional and survival outcomes in patients undergoing surgical treatment for metastatic disease of the spine

Authors: Vignesh K. Alamanda, Myra M. Robinson, Jeffrey S. Kneisl, Joshua C. Patt


Background: Retrospective review of a prospective database. Spine metastasis has been shown to occur in 40% of cancer patients with an annual incidence of over 18,000 cases in North America alone. In this study, we sought to explore the functional and survival outcomes of patients undergoing surgical treatment for metastatic disease of the spine.
Methods: A retrospective cohort study of a prospective database at a major cancer center was conducted. A total of 55 patients who met the inclusion criteria from January 2010 to December 2015 were included. Functional status was assessed through patient’s ambulatory status. Patient and tumor characteristics were analyzed and regression analyses were performed.
Results: Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) was the most common subtype encountered (27.3%). Excluding patients who had spinal metastasis at time of diagnosis, the median time to spinal metastasis from cancer diagnosis was 2.5 years. Median overall survival (OS) time was 1.8 years post diagnosis and 1.6 years post-surgical intervention. Age and tumor subtype were independent predictors of death (P<0.05). Post-surgical intervention, only 3.6% of patients were unable to ambulate—an improvement from 12.7% seen in the immediate preoperative period, P=0.0253. However, at the time of final follow-up, this number had risen to nearly 37%, P<0.0001.
Conclusions: Spinal metastasis portends a debilitating prognosis. Ambulatory status is improved or maintained in the post-surgical period. However, long-term outlook remains dismal with median survival at only 1.8 years following diagnosis of spinal metastasis and ambulatory status declining precipitously at the time of final follow-up.