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Palliative Surgery Benefits Weighed in Spinal Metastasis

Last Updated: January 19, 2010.

Palliative surgery for spinal metastasis can deliver satisfaction to patients and their family members in terms of improved quality of life, including neurological improvement, reduced pain and longer patient survival, according to a study in the January issue of The Spine Journal.

TUESDAY, Jan. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Palliative surgery for spinal metastasis can deliver satisfaction to patients and their family members in terms of improved quality of life, including neurological improvement, reduced pain and longer patient survival, according to a study in the January issue of The Spine Journal.

Shunsuke Fujibayashi, M.D., of Kyoto University in Japan and colleagues administered a questionnaire to 71 patients who had undergone palliative surgery for spinal metastasis and/or their families to determine the effect on their quality of life. The questionnaire sought information on status of patient survival, survival duration after the surgery, neurological status before and after surgery, duration of ambulatory period, pain before and after surgery (with or without adjuvant therapy), identity of the key decision maker, and the satisfaction of patients and families.

The researchers found that 37 patients (52.2 percent) responded to the questionnaire, with 80 percent of respondents expressing satisfaction with the results of the surgical treatment. Predictors of expressed satisfaction for patients were age of less than 65 years and neurological improvement after surgery. Predictors of expressed satisfaction for family members were pain reduction and continued patient survival.

"These results strongly suggested that palliative surgery is a valuable treatment for metastatic spinal disease. Younger patients were more likely to want active treatment and to seek any functional improvement that contributed to an improved quality of life in their limited life span. Pain control and the length of patient survival were important factors for people caring for patients," the authors conclude.

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