Naresh Kumar, Sirisha Madhu, Hussain Bohra, Naveen Pandita, Samuel Sherng Young Wang, Keith Gerard Lopez, Jiong Hao Tan, Balamurugan A. Vellayappan

June 2020, pp 1 - 36 Review Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-020-06478-5

First Online: 15 June 2020


Surgery with radiation therapy (RT) is more effective in treating spinal metastases, than RT alone. However, RT when administered in close proximity to surgery may predispose to wound complications. There exist limited guidelines on the optimal timing between RT and surgery. The purpose of this systematic review is to: (1) address whether pre-operative RT (preop-RT) and/or post-operative RT (postop-RT) is associated with wound complications and (2) define the safe interval between RT and surgery or vice versa.


PubMed, Embase and Scopus databases were systematically searched for articles dealing with spinal metastases, treated with surgery and RT, and discussing wound status.


We obtained 2332 articles from all databases, and after applying exclusion criteria, removing duplicates and reading the full text, we identified 27 relevant articles. Fourteen additional articles were identified by hand-search, leading to a total of 41 articles. All 41 mentioned wound complications/healing. Sixteen articles discussed preop-RT, 8 postop-RT, 15 both, and 2 mentioned intraoperative-RT with additional pre/postop-RT. Twenty studies mentioned surgery-RT time interval; one concluded that wound complications were higher when RT-surgery interval was ≤ 7 days. Seven studies reported significant association between preop-RT and wound complications.


Evidence is insufficient to draw definitive conclusion about optimal RT-surgery interval. However, based on published literature and expert opinions, we conclude that an interval of 2 weeks, the minimum being 7 days, is optimum between RT-surgery or vice versa; this can be reduced further by postop-stereotactic body RT. If RT-surgery window is > 12 months, wound-complications rise. Postop-RT has fewer wound complications versus preop-RT.

Read Full Article