Ahmad M. Tarawneh, Dritan Pasku, Nasir A. Quraishi

October 2021, Volume 30, Issue 10, pp 2791 - 2799 Review Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-020-06647-6

First Online: 12 November 2020

Surgical complications and re-operation rates in spinal metastases surgery: a systematic review


The goal of this study was to review the incidence of complications and unplanned re-operations after surgery for metastatic spinal tumors.


The spinal column is the most common osseous site for metastatic spread. The goals of the treatment of spinal metastases are largely palliative. The surgical aims include establishing a diagnosis, providing stability, relieving neurological compression and deterioration, decreasing pain and increasing patient independence. Patients with spinal metastases who undergo surgery are considered high risk, with higher morbidity and mortality rates.

Materials and methods

A systematic review was undertaken; PubMed and Embase databases were searched between (2010–2020) for relevant publications in English language with the following search items: metastasis OR metastases AND spine AND surgery AND complications OR revision. Using a standard PRISMA template, 2293 articles were identified. Full-text articles of interest were assessed for inclusion criteria of greater than 30 patients.


A final number of 19 articles fully met the search criteria. Four were level II evidence, and the remaining were level III/IV. Surgical site infection 6.5% (135/2088) was reported as the main complication following surgery for spinal metastases followed by neurological deterioration 3.3% (53/1595) and instrumentation failure 2.0% (30/1501). Re-operation rate was 8.3% (54/651), with SSI (27.8%) being the most common reason for revision surgery.


Patients with spinal metastases frequently present with complex therapeutic challenges requiring multidisciplinary team assessment. Surgical site infection (6.5%) was the main reason for a re-operation in patients undergoing surgery for spinal metastases.

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