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Sehan Park, Jae Woo Park, Jin Hoon Park, Choon Sung Lee, Dong-Ho Lee, Chang Ju Hwang, Jae Jun Yang, and Jae Hwan Cho

OBJECTIVE

Metastatic epidural spinal cord compression (MESCC) causes neurological deficits that may hinder ambulation. Understanding the prognostic factors associated with increased neurological recovery and regaining ambulatory functions is important for surgical planning in MESCC patients with neurological deficits. The present study was conducted to elucidate prognostic factors of neurological recovery in MESCC patients.

METHODS

A total of 192 patients who had surgery for MESCC due to preoperative neurological deficits were reviewed. A motor recovery rate ≥ 50% and ambulatory function restoration were defined as the primary favorable endpoints. Factors associated with a motor recovery rate ≥ 50%, regaining ambulatory function, and patient survival were analyzed.

RESULTS

About one-half (48.4%) of the patients had a motor recovery rate ≥ 50%, and 24.4% of patients who were not able to walk due to MESCC before the surgery were able to walk after the operation. The factors “involvement of the thoracic spine” (p = 0.015) and “delayed operation” (p = 0.041) were associated with poor neurological recovery. Low preoperative muscle function grade was associated with a low likelihood of regaining ambulatory functions (p = 0.002). Furthermore, performing the operation ≥ 72 hours after the onset of the neurological deficit significantly decreased the likelihood of regaining ambulatory functions (p = 0.020). Postoperative ambulatory function significantly improved patient survival (p = 0.048).

CONCLUSIONS

Delayed operation and the involvement of the thoracic spine were poor prognostic factors for neurological recovery after MESCC surgery. Furthermore, a more severe preoperative neurological deficit was associated with a lesser likelihood of regaining ambulatory functions postoperatively. Earlier detection of motor weaknesses and expeditious surgical interventions are necessary, not only to improve patient functional status and quality of life but also to enhance survival.