Instrumented surgical treatment for metastatic spinal tumors: is fusion necessary?

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OBJECTIVE

The goal of this study was to evaluate the radiographic and clinical results of instrumentation surgery without fusion for metastases to the spine.

METHODS

Between 2010 and 2017, patients with spinal tumors who underwent instrumentation without fusion surgery were consecutively evaluated. Preoperative and postoperative clinical data were evaluated. Data were inclusive for last follow-up and just prior to death if the patient died. Instrumentation-related complications included screw migration, screw or rod breakage, cage migration, and screw loosening.

RESULTS

Excluding patients who died within 6 months, a total of 136 patients (140 operations) were recruited. The average follow-up duration was 16.5 months (median 12.4 months). The pain visual analog scale score decreased from 6.4 to 2.5 (p < 0.001) and the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group scale score improved (p < 0.001). There were only 3 cases (2.1%) of symptomatic instrumentation-related complications that resulted in revisions. There were 6 cases of nonsymptomatic complications. The most common complication was screw migration or pull-out (5 cases). There were 3 cases of screw or rod breakage and 1 case of cage migration. Two-thirds of the cases of instrumentation-related complications occurred after 6 months, with a mean postoperative period of 1 year.

CONCLUSIONS

The current study reported successful outcomes with very low complication rates after nonfusion surgery for patients with spinal metastases, even among those who survived for more than 6 months. More than half of the instrumentation-related complications were asymptomatic and did not require revision. The results suggest that nonfusion surgery might be sufficient for a majority of patients with spinal metastases.

ABBREVIATIONS ECOG = Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group; pVAS = pain visual analog scale; TS = Tokuhashi score.
Article Information

Contributor Notes

Correspondence Keun-Ho Lee: Kangdong Sacred Heart Hospital, Hallym University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea. keun118@naver.com.INCLUDE WHEN CITING Published online November 22, 2019; DOI: 10.3171/2019.8.SPINE19583.Disclosures The authors report no conflict of interest concerning the materials or methods used in this study or the findings specified in this paper.
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