Metastatic spinal cord compression

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Metastatic spinal cord compression is a medical emergency characterized by its potential for rapid deterioration of neurological function, often leading to significant impairments in quality of life. The most common mechanism is growth of a vertebral metastatic lesion with invasion of the epidural space and compression of the spinal cord. Patients commonly present with progressive pain and may later develop motor and sensory weakness, and autonomic dysfunction. The preferred imaging study is an MRI of the entire spine, which should be performed urgently. In patients without known malignancy, tissue diagnosis through biopsy as well as evaluation for primary site of disease and other metastases is necessary. Initial management includes steroids and analgesics. Treatment options include radiation and surgical decompression, and considerations include tissue type, an assessment of spinal stability, and performance status. Patients with metastatic spinal cord compression should be managed at centers capable of providing specialized treatment including radiation oncology and neurosurgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationOncologic Critical Care
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9783319745886
ISBN (Print)9783319745879
StatePublished - Oct 12 2019


  • Cancer
  • Corticosteroids
  • Dexamethasone
  • Intramedullary
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Metastatic spinal cord compression
  • Paraplegia
  • Radiotherapy
  • Stereotactic radiation
  • Surgical decompression
  • Tetraplegia
  • Vertebral metastasis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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