Are they too old? surgical treatment for metastatic epidural spinal cord compression in patients aged 65 years and older

Eyal Itshayek*, Omer Or, Leon Kaplan, Josh Schroeder, Yair Barzilay, Guy Rosenthal, Yigal Shoshan, Shifra Fraifeld, José E. Cohen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: We aimed to assess the efficacy of surgical decompression of metastatic epidural spinal cord compression (MESCC) in patients ≥65 years and review our multidisciplinary surgical decision-making process. Methods: We identified all patients operated for MESCC from August 2008 to June 2012. Patients ≥65 years, with a single area of cord compression, back/radicular pain, neurological signs of cord compression, surgery within 48 hours after onset of MESCC-related paraplegia, and follow-up for ≥1 year or until death were included. Files were reviewed retrospectively. The requirement for informed consent was waived. Neurological status was assessed with the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) Impairment Scale (AIS). Duration of ambulation and survival were assessed with Kaplan-Meier and Cox regression analysis. Results: Twenty-one patients met inclusion criteria (11 women/10 men; mean age 73 years, range 65-87). All presented with debilitating back/neck pain. Ten patients (48%) were not ambulatory before surgery and four suffered urinary incontinence/constipation (19%). Preoperative AIS was E in 5 patients (24%), D in 11 (62%), and C in 5 (24%). Motor symptoms had been present for a mean of 3.8 days (range 1-14). All patients regained ambulation. Overall, mean survival was 320 days (range 19-798) and mean ambulation was 302 days (range 18-747). On 31 March 2013, 7 patients (33%) were alive and ambulatory at a mean of 459 days (range 302-747); 14 patients had died (67%) at a mean of 251 days (range 19-798), with a mean ambulation of 223 days (range 18-730). Discussion: With careful patient selection, surgery may achieve long duration of ambulation in patients ≥65 years with MESCC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)530-543
Number of pages14
JournalNeurological Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Age
  • Ambulation
  • Metastasis
  • Metastatic epidural spinal cord compression
  • Outcomes
  • Spinal surgery
  • Spine


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