Predicting Neurologic Recovery after Surgery in Patients with Deficits Secondary to MESCC: Systematic Review

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Study Design.

Systematic literature review and expert survey


The aim of this study was to determine factors associated with neurologic improvement in patients with neurologic deficits secondary to metastatic epidural spinal cord compression (MESCC). Clear understanding of these factors will guide surgical decision-making by helping to elucidate which patients are more likely to benefit from surgery and how surgeons can increase the probability of neurologic and functional restoration.

Summary of Background Data.

Surgical spinal cord decompression has been shown to improve neurologic function in patients with symptomatic MESCC. However, prognostication of neurologic improvement after surgery remains challenging, owing to sparse data and complexity of these patients.


PubMed and Embase databases were searched for relevant publications. PRISMA Statement guided publication selection and data reporting. GRADE guidelines were used for evidence quality evaluation and recommendation formulation.


Low-quality evidence supports the use of the duration and severity of neurologic deficit as predictors of neurological recovery in patients with MESCC. Low-quality evidence supports the use of thoracic level of compression and previous irradiation as adverse predictors of neurological recovery. Nearly all of the AOSpine Knowledge Forum Tumor members who responded to the survey agreed that ambulation with assistance represented a successful surgical result and that duration of ambulation loss and the severity of weakness should be considered when trying to predict whether surgery would result in restoration of ambulation.


Review of literature and expert opinion support the importance of duration of ambulation loss and the severity of neurologic deficit (muscle strength, bladder function) in prediction of neurologic recovery among patients with symptomatic MESCC. Efforts to reduce the duration of ambulation loss and to prevent progression of neurologic deficits should be made to improve the probability of neurologic recovery.


Level of Evidence: 2

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