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J Korean Neurosurg Soc. 2012 Jan;51(1):1-7. doi: 10.3340/jkns.2012.51.1.1. Epub 2012 Jan 31.

The role of stereotactic radiosurgery in metastasis to the spine.

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  • 1Department of Neurosurgery, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, Korea.



The incidence and prevalence of spinal metastases are increasing, and although the role of radiation therapy in the treatment of metastatic tumors of the spine has been well established, the same cannot be said about the role of stereotactic radiosurgery. Herein, the authors present a systematic review regarding the value of spinal stereotactic radiosurgery in the management of spinal metastasis.


A systematic literature search for stereotactic radiosurgery of spinal metastases was undertaken. Grades of Recommendation, Assessment, Development, and Education (GRADE) working group criteria was used to evaluate the qualities of study datasets.


Thirty-one studies met the study inclusion criteria. Twenty-three studies were of low quality, and 8 were of very low quality according to the GRADE criteria. Stereotactic radiosurgery was reported to be highly effective in reducing pain, regardless of prior treatment. The overall local control rate was approximately 90%. Additional asymptomatic lesions may be treated by stereotactic radiosurgery to avoid further irradiation of neural elements and further bone-marrow suppression. Stereotactic radiosurgery may be preferred in previously irradiated patients when considering the radiation tolerance of the spinal cord. Furthermore, residual tumors after surgery can be safely treated by stereotactic radiosurgery, which decreases the likelihood of repeat surgery and accompanying surgical morbidities. Encompassing one vertebral body above and below the involved vertebrae is unnecessary. Complications associated with stereotactic radiosurgery are generally self-limited and mild.


In the management of spinal metastasis, stereotactic radiosurgery appears to provide high rates of tumor control, regardless of histologic diagnosis, and can be used in previously irradiated patients. However, the quality of literature available on the subject is not sufficient.


Local control; Radiation therapy; Radiosurgery; Spinal metastasis; Spine surgery; Spine tumors

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