Journal scan

Impact of infection measured on spinal tumour surgery survival rates

A round-up of latest research from the nursing and medical journals
Spine surgery

For many patients, presentation with metastatic spinal tumours or cord compression is the first indication of malignant disease. As such, survival is already often compromised and the patients have a poor prognosis.

Surgery that might successfully stabilise the spine or provide symptom relief is, therefore, a reasonable treatment aim.

However, complications such as surgical site infection (SSI) can adversely affect outcomes, leading to increased hospitalisation rates, higher treatment costs and, in some cases, increased mortality rates.

This English study reviews and reports on the medical records of 152 patients who have undergone surgical treatment for spinal metastatic tumours at Salford Royal Infirmary, a large tertiary care facility, over a four-year period.

Retrospective application of measures such as the Revised Tokashi Score, which is used to determine surgical suitability

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For many patients, presentation with metastatic spinal tumours or cord compression is the first indication of malignant disease. As such, survival is already often compromised and the patients have a poor prognosis.


Surgery to stabilise the spine or provide symptom relief is one treatment option. Picture: SPL

Surgery that might successfully stabilise the spine or provide symptom relief is, therefore, a reasonable treatment aim.

However, complications such as surgical site infection (SSI) can adversely affect outcomes, leading to increased hospitalisation rates, higher treatment costs and, in some cases, increased mortality rates.

This English study reviews and reports on the medical records of 152 patients who have undergone surgical treatment for spinal metastatic tumours at Salford Royal Infirmary, a large tertiary care facility, over a four-year period.

Retrospective application of measures such as the Revised Tokashi Score, which is used to determine surgical suitability since it closely correlates to survival, was conducted to provide a baseline measure.

In total, 77 women and 75 men underwent surgery. Of those, 17 patients experienced SSI; 14 suffering superficial infections, three deep infections. Average survival for the entire cohort of patients was 262 days, with 42% survival at 12 months and just under 20% at 5 years.

For patients who experienced infection, the median survival was 135 days. The patients age at the time of the surgery did not seem to exert any fundamental influence on survival outcomes.

Atkinson RA et al (2016) Survival of patients undergoing surgery for metastatic spinal tumours and the impact of surgical site infection. Journal of Hospital Infection 94, 80-85.

Journal Scan is ​compiled by Dion Smyth, lecturer-practitioner in cancer and palliative care, Birmingham City University.

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