Surgery for metastatic spine tumors in the elderly. Advanced age is not a contraindication to surgery!

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  • A Amelot
  • ,
  • L Balabaud, Denmark
  • D Choi
  • ,
  • Z Fox
  • ,
  • H A Crockard, Denmark
  • T Albert
  • ,
  • C M Arts, Denmark
  • J M Buchowski, Denmark
  • C Bunger
  • C K Chung, Denmark
  • M H Coppes, Denmark
  • B Depreitere, Denmark
  • M G Fehlings, Denmark
  • J Harrop
  • ,
  • N Kawahara
  • ,
  • E S Kim, Denmark
  • C S Lee
  • ,
  • Y Leung
  • ,
  • Z J Liu
  • J A Martin-Benlloch, Denmark
  • E M Massicotte
  • ,
  • B Meyer, Department of Neurosurgery, Technical University of Munich, Munich, Germany
  • ,
  • F C Oner
  • ,
  • W Peul
  • ,
  • N Qureshi, Denmark
  • Y Tokuhashi, Denmark
  • K Tomita
  • ,
  • C Ulbricht
  • ,
  • J J Verlaan, Denmark
  • Miao Wang
  • C Mazel

BACKGROUND: With recent advances in oncologic treatments, there has been an increase in patient survival rates and concurrently an increase in the number of incidence of symptomatic spinal metastases. Because elderly patients are a substantial part of the oncology population, their types of treatment as well as the possible impact their treatment will have on healthcare resources need to be further examined.

PURPOSE: We studied whether age has a significant influence on quality of life and survival in surgical interventions for spinal metastases.

STUDY DESIGN: We used data from a multicenter prospective study by the Global Spine Tumor Study Group (GSTSG). This GSTSG study involved 1,266 patients who were admitted for surgical treatments of symptomatic spinal metastases at 22 spinal centers from different countries and followed up for 2 years after surgery.

PATIENT SAMPLE: There were 1,266 patients recruited between March 2001 and October 2014.

OUTCOME MEASURES: Patient demographics were collected along with outcome measures, including European Quality of Life-5 Dimensions (EQ-5D), neurologic functions, complications, and survival rates.

METHODS: We realized a multicenter prospective study of 1,266 patients admitted for surgical treatment of symptomatic spinal metastases. They were divided and studied into three different age groups: <70, 70-80, and >80 years.

RESULTS: Despite a lack of statistical difference in American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) score, Frankel neurologic score, or Karnofsky functional score at presentation, patients >80 years were more likely to undergo emergency surgery and palliative procedures compared with younger patients. Postoperative complications were more common in the oldest age group (33.3% in the >80, 23.9% in the 70-80, and 17.9% for patients <70 years, p=.004). EQ-5D improved in all groups, but survival expectancy was significantly longer in patients <70 years old (p=.02). Furthermore, neurologic recovery after surgery was lower in patients >80 years old.

CONCLUSIONS: Surgeons should not be biased against operating elderly patients. Although survival rates and neurologic improvements in the elderly patients are lower than for younger patients, operating the elderly is compounded by the fact that they undergo more emergency and palliative procedures, despite good ASA scores and functional status. Age in itself should not be a determinant of whether to operate or not, and operations should not be avoided in the elderly when indicated.

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe spine journal : official journal of the North American Spine Society
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2015

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