Factors associated with improved survival following surgery for renal cell carcinoma spinal metastases

Rory J. Petteys, Steven M. Spitz, C. Rory Goodwin, Nancy Abu-Bonsrah, Ali Bydon, Timothy F. Witham, Jean Paul Wolinsky, Ziya L. Gokaslan, Daniel M. Sciubba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Objective Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) frequently metastasizes to the spine, causing pain or neurological dysfunction, and is often resistant to standard therapies. Spinal surgery is frequently required, but may result in high morbidity rates. The authors sought to identify prognostic factors and determine clinical outcomes in patients undergoing surgery for RCC spinal metastases. Methods The authors searched the records of patients who had undergone spinal surgery for metastatic disease at a single institution during a 12-year period and retrieved data for 30 patients with metastatic RCC. The records were retrospectively reviewed for data on preoperative conditions, treatment, and survival. Statistical analyses (i.e., Kaplan-Meier survival analysis and log-rank test in univariate analysis) were performed with R version 2.15.2. Results The 30 patients (23 men and 7 women with a mean age of 57.6 years [range 29-79 years]) had in total 40 spinal surgeries for metastatic RCC. The indications for surgery included pain (70%) and weakness (30%). Fourteen patients (47%) had a Spinal Instability Neoplastic Score (SINS) indicating indeterminate or impending instability, and 6 patients (20%) had a SINS denoting instability. The median length of postoperative survival estimated with Kaplan-Meier analysis was 11.4 months. Younger age (p = 0.001) and disease control at the primary site (p = 0.005), were both significantly associated with improved survival. In contrast, visceral (p = 0.002) and osseous (p = 0.009) metastases, nonambulatory status (p = 0.001), and major comorbidities (p = 0.015) were all significantly associated with decreased survival. Postoperative Frankel grades were the same or had improved in 78% of patients. Major complications occurred in 9 patients, and there were 3 deaths (10%) during the 30-day in-hospital period. Three en bloc resections were performed. Conc lusions Resection and fixation may provide pain relief and neurological stabilization in patients with spinal metastases arising from RCC, but surgical morbidity rates remain high. Younger patients with solitary spinal metastases, good neurological function, and limited major comorbidities may have longer survival and may benefit from aggressive intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberE13
JournalNeurosurgical focus
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2016


  • Carcinoma
  • Metastatic
  • Prognosis
  • Renal cell
  • SINS
  • Spinal Instability Neoplastic Score
  • Spine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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