Surgery for patients with metastatic tumors to the spine is indicated when there is neurological compromise, spinal instability, and/or severe pain.
Alternatives to surgery include chemo and radiation therapy, especially for sensitive tumors.
The goals of surgery are to decompress the spinal cord and nerves and to stabilize the spine if needed.
Patients require additional treatment both to the area of spinal metastasis and to other areas of the body. Surgery is not a cure for the cancer.
This is a challenging area in spinal surgery. The rates of wound healing problems and infection are relatively high. The tumor can recur and be more difficult to remove a second time. Also, patients are often compromised to an extent because of the metastatic disease.