Separation surgery followed by spine stereotactic radiosurgery (SSRS) has been shown to achieve favorable rates of local tumor control and patient-reported outcomes in patients with metastatic epidural spinal cord compression (MESCC). However, rates and factors associated with adjacent-level tumor progression (ALTP) in this population have not yet been characterized. The present study aimed to identify factors associated with ALTP and examine its association with overall survival (OS) in patients receiving surgery followed by radiosurgery for MESCC.
Thirty-nine patients who underwent separation surgery followed by SSRS for MESCC were identified using a prospectively collected database and were retrospectively reviewed. Radiological measurements were collected from preoperative, postoperative, and post-SSRS MRI. Statistical analysis was conducted using the Kaplan-Meier product-limit method and Cox proportional hazards test. Subgroup analysis was conducted for patients who experienced ALTP into the epidural space (ALTP-E).
The authors’ cohort included 39 patients with a median OS of 14.7 months (range 2.07–96.3 months). ALTP was observed in 16 patients (41.0%) at a mean of 6.1 ± 5.4 months postradiosurgery, of whom 4 patients (10.3%) experienced ALTP-E. Patients with ALTP had shorter OS (13.0 vs 17.1 months, p = 0.047) compared with those without ALTP. Factors associated with an increased likelihood of ALTP included the amount of bone marrow infiltrated by tumor at the index level, amount of residual epidural disease following separation surgery, and prior receipt of radiotherapy at the index level (p < 0.05). Subgroup analysis revealed that primary tumor type, amount of preoperative epidural disease, time elapsed between surgery and radiosurgery, and prior receipt of radiotherapy at the index level were significantly associated with ALTP-E (p < 0.05).
To the authors’ knowledge, this study is the first to identify possible risk factors for ALTP, and they suggest that it may be associated with shorter OS in patients receiving surgery followed by radiosurgery for MESCC. Future studies with higher power should be conducted to further characterize factors associated with ALTP in this population.