All medical records of patients treated for metastatic compression of the spinal cord or cauda equina in the eastern part of Denmark from 1979 through 1985 were reviewed. With regard to treatment response and survival, 345 patients could be evaluated. Carcinoma of the lung (19%), prostate (18%), breast (13%), and kidney (10%) were the most frequent primary malignancies causing spinal compression. The outcome of treatment depended primarily on the patients' condition at the time of diagnosis: 79% of the patients who were able to walk before the treatment remained ambulatory, whereas only 21% of the nonambulatory paraplegic patients and 6% of the paralytic patients regained walking ability. Patients treated with laminectomy followed by radiotherapy seemed to respond better than patients treated with radiotherapy or laminectomy alone, but when the patients' pretreatment motor function was taken into account no significant difference was found between the three forms of treatment. In the subgroup of nonambulatory patients, however, a significantly better restoration of gait was observed in patients treated with the combination of laminectomy and radiotherapy than in patients treated with radiotherapy alone. A longer survival in the group treated with the combination of laminectomy and radiotherapy may reflect that these patients were in a lower stage of disease and thus had a better potential of regaining motor function. The results call for prospective randomized studies.
A retrospective study of 398 patients suffering from metastatic compression of the spinal cord or cauda equina is presented. The study comprised almost all relevant medical records of patients admitted to hospital in the eastern part of Denmark in the period 1979 through 1985. Carcinoma of the lung, prostate, breast and kidney were the most frequent primary malignancies causing spinal compression. Most patients were treated with laminectomy, or radiotherapy or with laminectomy and radiotherapy combined. The effect of the treatment was estimated by evaluation of motor function and sphincter control. Treatment with laminectomy followed by radiotherapy was significantly superior to treatment with laminectomy or radiotherapy alone. But if the patients' motor function and primary tumour were taken into account, no significant difference between the treatments was observed. The efficacy of treatment depended upon the symptoms when the diagnosis was established, and accordingly early diagnosis is of the utmost importance. The incidence of metastatic compression increased during the period covered by the study, and since this condition must not go untreated, awareness of the symptoms, primarily pain, is essential.
We reviewed all medical records concerning patients suffering from spinal cord or cauda equina compression (SCC) secondary to cancer, in the eastern part of Denmark, from 1979 through 1985. During the period the incidence of SCC in cancer patients went up from 4.4% to 6%. However, this increase was not significant. The series comprised 398 cases, with carcinoma of the prostate (19%), lung (18%), breast (14%) and kidney (10%) accounting for 61%. The symptoms were evaluated in accordance with the patients rating of pain, motor deficits, sphincter control and paraesthesia, whereas the clinical manifestations were classified on the basis of motor deficit and bladder dysfunction. During the period preceding the diagnosis of SCC, 83% of the patients suffered from back pain, 67% from deteriorating gait and 48% had retention of the urine. In 35% of the patients there was no sphincter disturbance and 10% had normal sensory function. The outcome of treatment was estimated by changes in motor deficits and sphincter function, and depended primarily on the patients condition at the time of the diagnosis. Of the patients who were able to walk before treatment, 79% remained ambulatory, whereas only 18% of the non-ambulatory patients regained walking ability. Patients treated by decompressive laminectomy followed by radiotherapy apparently had a better response than patients treated with surgery or irradiation alone, but when the patients pre-treatment motor function was taken into account, no significant difference was observed. The study may call for a properly randomized trial with careful stratification of tumour biology, performance status and neurological deficits.
Twelve men and 8 women, aged 15-73 years, were operated upon for herniated thoracic intervertebral disc during the years 1946 to 1972. The average duration of the symptoms was 14-15 months (range 4 days to 5 years). The most common symptom was back pain, with disturbances of sensibility or loss of power in one or both legs. On admission 13 patients had paraparesis. Laminectomy was carried out in all cases, and in two patients costotransversectomy was also performed. In six cases there was a transient exacerbation of the paraparesis after operation. 17 patients were followed up 2-25 years after operation. 13 had no neurological symptoms or signs, and two had slight loss of power in the legs. Of two patients who had paraparalysis before operation, one still suffered from paraparalysis, while the other had a moderately severe paraparesis.