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J Neurosurg. 1978 Dec;49(6):839-43.

The neurosurgical management of spinal metastases causing cord and cauda equina compression.


The authors report a series of 100 consecutive patients with spinal metastases causing cord or cauda equine compression, who were treated with surgical decompression. Of these, 30% (all women) had breast cancer. The most common primary neoplasm in man was prostatic carcinoma. Pain was the earliest and most prominant symptom, followed by weakness. Bladder dysfunction was recorded in 40 patients. The thoracic region was the most common site of cord compression (76 patients). Surgical treatment involved urgent and extensive laminectomy decompression. Concomitant spinal stabilization was required in 10 cases, involving posterior rib graft fusion in seven and Harrington rod instrumentation in three. At last follow-up review, 29 of these patients were living with an average postoperative survival of 2.3 years; 71 patients had died with an average survival of 8.8 months. Surgical decompression produced effective pain relief in 70% of the patients. Postoperatively, 58 patients could walk; of these, 40 were walking and continent of urine 6 months following surgery (including five patients who were totally paraplegic on admission). Positive approach and aggressive management in this problem can achieve results superior to those generally reflected in the literature.

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