Palliative embolization for metastases of the spine

Giancarlo Facchini, Piergiorgio Di Tullio, Milva Battaglia, Tommaso Bartalena, Cecilia Tetta, Costantino Errani, Andreas F. Mavrogenis, Giuseppe Rossi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: To present palliative selective and superselective arterial embolization with N-butyl-cyanoacrylate for cancer patients with spinal metastases. Materials and methods: We studied the files of 164 cancer patients (94 men and 70 women; mean age 57.6 years; range 35–81 years) treated from March 2003 to March 2013 with 178 selective arterial embolization procedures for metastases of the spine from variable primary cancers. We evaluated the technical success of the embolization procedure with post-procedural angiography, the clinical effect in pain relief, need for analgesics and tumor size reduction, and the embolization-related complications. Results: Post-embolization angiography showed complete occlusion of the pathological feeding vessels in all procedures. Pain score and need for analgesics reduced by 50 % in 159 patients (97 %); no response was achieved in five patients with metastases of the sacrum. The mean duration of pain relief was 9.2 months (range 1–12 months). Metastatic tumor size reduced from a mean of 5.5 cm (range 3.5–7.5 cm) pre-embolization to a mean of 4.5 cm (range 3–5 cm) at the 6-month follow-up; the difference was not statistically significant. Ninety-three patients (56.7 %) experienced embolization-related complications the most common being post-embolization syndrome (80 patients, 48.8 %) followed by leg paresthesias (ten patients, 6 %), and rupture of a lumbar artery (one patient, 0.6 %). Conclusion: Selective arterial embolization with N-butyl-cyanoacrylate should be considered for pain palliation of patients with metastases of the spine. However, pain relief is temporary, and complications, although minor may occur.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Traumatology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Dec 14 2015


  • Embolization
  • Metastasis
  • Pain
  • Palliation
  • Spine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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