Surgical management of prostate cancer metastatic to the spine: Clinical article

Brian J. Williams, Benjamin D. Fox, Daniel M. Sciubb, Dima Suki, Shi Ming Tu, Deborah Kuban, Ziya L. Gokaslan, Laurence D. Rhines, Ganesh Rao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Object. Significant improvements in neurological function and pain relief are the benefits of aggressive surgical management of spinal metastatic disease. However, there is limited literature regarding the management of tumors with specific histological features. In this study, a series of patients undergoing spinal surgery for metastatic prostate cancer were reviewed to identify predictors of survival and functional outcome. Methods. The authors retrospectively reviewed the records of all patients who were treated with surgery for prostate cancer metastases to the spine between 1993 and 2005 at a single institution. Particular attention was given to initial presentation, operative management, clinical and neurological outcomes, and factors associated with complications and overall survival. Results. Forty-four patients underwent a total of 47 procedures. The median age at spinal metastasis was 66 years (range 50-84 years). Twenty-four patients had received previous external-beam radiation to the site of spinal involvement, with a median dose of 70 Gy (range 30-74 Gy). Frankel scores on discharge were significantly improved when compared with preoperative scores (p = 0.001). Preoperatively, 32 patients (73%) were walking and 33 (75%) were continent. On discharge, 36 (86%) of 42 patients were walking, and 37 (88%) of 42 were continent. Preoperatively, 40 patients (91%) were taking narcotics, with a median morphine equivalent dose of 21.5 mg/day, and 28 patients (64%) were taking steroids, with a median dose of 16 mg/day. At discharge, the median postoperative morphine equivalent dose was 12 mg/day, and the median steroid dose was 0 mg/day (p < 0.001). Complications occurred in 15 (32%) of 47 procedures, with 9 (19%) considered major, and there were 4 deaths within 30 days of surgery. The median overall survival was 5.4 months. Gleason score (p = 0.002), total number of metastases (p = 0.001), and the degree of spinal canal compression (p = 0.001) were independent predictors of survival. Age = 65 years at the time of surgery was an independent predictor of a postoperative complication (p = 0.005). Conclusions. In selected patients with prostate cancer metastases to the spine, aggressive surgical decompression and spinal reconstruction is a useful treatment option. The results show that on average, neurological outcome is improved and use of analgesics is reduced. Gleason score, metastatic burden, and degree of spinal canal compression may be associated with survival following surgery, and thus should be considered carefully prior to opting for surgical management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)414-422
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery: Spine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2009


  • Metastasis
  • Outcome analysis
  • Prognosis
  • Prostate cancer
  • Spinal surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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