Surgical treatment strategies and outcome in patients with breast cancer metastatic to the spine: A review of 87 patients

Joseph A. Shehadi, Daniel M. Sciubba, Ian Suk, Dima Suki, Marcos V.C. Maldaun, Ian E. McCutcheon, Remi Nader, Richard Theriault, Laurence D. Rhines, Ziya L Gokaslan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Aggressive surgical management of spinal metastatic disease can provide improvement of neurological function and significant pain relief. However, there is limited literature analyzing such management as is pertains to individual histopathology of the primary tumor, which may be linked to overall prognosis for the patient. In this study, clinical outcomes were reviewed for patients undergoing spinal surgery for metastatic breast cancer. Respective review was done to identify all patients with breast cancer over an eight-year period at a major cancer center and then to select those with symptomatic spinal metastatic disease who underwent spinal surgery. Pre- and postoperative pain levels (visual analog scale [VAS]), analgesic medication usage, and modifed Frankel grade scores were compared on all patients who underwent surgery. Univariate and multivariate analyses were used to assess risks for complications. A total of 16,977 patients were diagnosed with breast cancer, and 479 patients (2.8%) were diagnosed with spinal metastases from breast cancer. Of these patients, 87 patients (18%) underwent 125 spinal surgeries. Of the 76 patients (87%) who were ambulatory preoperatively, the majority (98%) were still ambulatory. Of the 11 patients (13%) who were nonambulatory preoperatively, four patients were alive at 3 months postoperatively, three of which (75%) regained ambulation. The preoperative median VAS of six was significantly reduced to a median score of two at the time of discharge and at 3, 6, and 12 months postoperatively (P < 0.001 for all time points). A total of 39% of patients experienced complications; 87% were early (within 30 days of surgery), and 13% were late. Early major surgical complications were significantly greater when five or more levels were instrumented. In patients with spinal metastases specifically from breast cancer, aggressive surgical management provides significant pain relief and preservation or improvement of neurological function with an acceptably low rate of complications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1179-1192
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Spine Journal
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2007


  • Breast cancer
  • Estrogen
  • Metastases
  • Prognosis
  • Spine surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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