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Treatment of neoplastic spinal cord compression: results of a prospective study.

Neurosurgery 1991 November
Currently, external radiation and steroid therapy are used in most patients with neoplastic spinal cord compression. Surgery is generally used to treat those who do not respond to radiation therapy. To determine the role of de novo surgery in patients with spinal metastases, a prospective study was undertaken. Over a 4 1/2-year period, the cases of 54 patients with radiologically documented spinal metastases were studied. The sites of tumor origin included soft tissue sarcoma (8 patients), kidney (6 patients), lung (5 patients), breast (5 patients), spine (6 patients), unknown primary site (6 patients), and others (18 patients). Sites of compression included the cervical spine segments in 15 patients, thoracic segments in 23, lumbar in 14, and sacral in 2. Before surgery, 24 patients (44%) were nonambulatory. Three surgical approaches were used: anterior vertebral body resection in 45 patients, laminectomy in 7, and lateral osteotomy in 2. After surgery, 37 patients received external radiation therapy. All patients improved (became ambulatory) after surgery, with 23 of 25 patients surviving at 2 years continuing to be ambulatory. The 30-day mortality rate was 6% (three patients); eight patients (15%) sustained various surgical complications. These results are superior to those reported after external radiation therapy and steroids alone, and they support the concept that de novo surgery be considered in selected patients with spinal metastases.

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