Spine stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) is a safe and effective treatment for spinal metastases. However, it is unknown whether this highly conformal radiation technique is suitable at instrumented sites given the potential for microscopic disease seeding. The authors hypothesized that spinal decompression with instrumentation is not associated with increased local failure (LF) following SRS.
A 2:1 propensity-matched retrospective cohort study of patients undergoing SRS for spinal metastasis was conducted. Patients with less than 1 month of radiographic follow-up were excluded. Each SRS treatment with spinal decompression and instrumentation was propensity matched to 2 controls without decompression or instrumentation on the basis of demographic, disease-related, dosimetric, and treatment-site characteristics. Standardized differences were used to assess for balance between matched cohorts.
The primary outcome was the 12-month cumulative incidence of LF, with death as a competing risk. Lesions demonstrating any in-field progression were considered LFs. Secondary outcomes of interest were post-SRS pain flare, vertebral compression fracture, instrumentation failure, and any Grade ≥ 3 toxicity. Cumulative incidences analysis was used to estimate LF in each cohort, which were compared via Gray’s test. Multivariate competing-risks regression was then used to adjust for prespecified covariates.
Of 650 candidates for the control group, 166 were propensity matched to 83 patients with instrumentation. Baseline characteristics were well balanced. The median prescription dose was 16 Gy in each cohort. The 12-month cumulative incidence of LF was not statistically significantly different between cohorts (22.8% [instrumentation] vs 15.8% [control], p = 0.25). After adjusting for the prespecified covariates in a multivariate competing-risks model, decompression with instrumentation did not contribute to a greater risk of LF (HR 1.21, 95% CI 0.74–1.98, p = 0.45). The incidences of post-SRS pain flare (11% vs 14%, p = 0.55), vertebral compression fracture (12% vs 22%, p = 0.04), and Grade ≥ 3 toxicity (1% vs 1%, p = 1.00) were not increased at instrumented sites. No instrumentation failures were observed.
In this propensity-matched analysis, LF and toxicity were similar among cohorts, suggesting that decompression with instrumentation does not significantly impact the efficacy or safety of spine SRS. Accordingly, spinal instrumentation may not be a contraindication to SRS. Future studies comparing SRS to conventional radiotherapy at instrumented sites in matched populations are warranted.