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spine surgery

Referral Criteria for Non-Emergent Spinal Symptoms in the Neck and Low Back: A Survey of Canadian Spine Surgeons

Teaser: 

Yoga Raja Rampersaud, MD, FRCSC,1 Dr. Hamilton Hall, MD, FRCSC,2

1Associate Professor Department of Surgery, University of Toronto, Divisions of Orthopaedic and Neurosurgery University Health Network Medical Director, Back and Neck Specialty Program, Altum Health, Past President Canadian Spine Society.
2is a Professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Toronto. He is the Medical Director, CBI Health Group and Executive Director of the Canadian Spine Society in Toronto, Ontario.

CLINICAL TOOLS

Abstract: The majority of the patients referred for surgical consultation are not candidates for surgery. Appropriate operative candidates endure unnecessary and potentially detrimental delays in obtaining their surgery while the rest waste time waiting to be told that surgery is not the answer. The Canadian Spine Society surveyed its membership to establish a set of practical surgical referral recommendations for non-emergent spinal problems. The results support referrals of patients with leg or arm dominant pain but, in the absence of a significant structural abnormality, discourage referring patients with neck or back dominant symptoms.
Key Words: spine surgery, indications, referral, clinical presentations, non-emergent.

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There is no universally acceptable ideal candidate, absolute indication or unqualified contraindication for elective spinal surgery.
Referral is recommended most often for patients who have constant arm or leg dominant pain.
Patients who have untreated neck or back dominant pain are not appropriate surgical referrals.
Surgeons insistence on an image or refusal to see a suitable patient who rejects surgery reflect the excessive demand on their time, which can be relieved with proper referral.
The recommendation for referral is highest when the patient has had aappropriate non-operative treatment: well supervised physical therapy, suitable medication, effective education and successful lifestyle modification.
Spine related arm and leg dominant pain are usually the result of specific nerve root pathologies and therefore are more likely amenable to surgical intervention than back or neck pain which are generally multifactorial.
Patients with disabling or progressive neurological deficits should be referred early; patients with little or no pain and with no functional limitation related to the neurological deficit are not recommended for referral.
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Vertebral Metastatic Disease: A Practice Guideline for the General Practitioner

Vertebral Metastatic Disease: A Practice Guideline for the General Practitioner

Teaser: 

Michael S. Taccone,1 Markian Pahuta,2 Darren M.Roffey,3,4 Mohammed F. Shamji,5 Eugene K. Wai,2,3,4

1Division of Neurosurgery, Department of Surgery, The Ottawa Hospital, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada.
2Division of Orthopedic Surgery, Department of Surgery, The Ottawa Hospital, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada.
3Ottawa Combined Adult Spinal Surgery Program, The Ottawa Hospital, Ottawa, ON, Canada.
4Clinical Epidemiology Program, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa, ON, Canada.
5Division of Neurosurgery, Department of Surgery, Toronto Western Hospital, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada.

CLINICAL TOOLS

Abstract: Vertebral metastatic disease afflicts a significant proportion of cancer patients, most commonly those with breast and lung disease. Symptoms can include tumor-related pain, neurological deficit from spinal cord or nerve compression and pathological fracture with mechanical instability. Appropriate workup includes identifying the primary disease, defining the extent of spinal and extra-spinal pathology and classifying spinal stability based on the pattern of osseous involvement. Specific therapy for the vertebral metastatic disease can include pharmacologic therapy to deliver analgesia, steroids, bisphosphonate, anti-neoplastic therapy, radiation therapy as either primary or adjuvant therapy and surgical intervention for mechanical or neurologic instability.
Key Words: Vertebral metastatic disease, metastatic epidural spinal cord compression, spinal instability, spine surgery, spinal radiation therapy, pathologic fracture.

Members of the College of Family Physicians of Canada may claim MAINPRO-M2 Credits for this unaccredited educational program.

www.cfpc.ca/Mainpro_M2

You can take quizzes without subscribing; however, your results will not be stored. Subscribers will have access to their quiz results for future reference.

Red flags are non-specific and unreliable means of determining spinal malignancy in patients with back pain. Clinical suspicion combined with history and physical exam are best for increasing pre-test probability of imaging studies.
Initial evaluation and referral to definitive management should be made within 24 hours of detection of significant neurological deficit, significant metastatic epidural spinal cord compression or instability.
MRI is the imaging modality of choice for initial evaluation and assessment of overall spinal tumor burden.
Vertebral metastatic disease is very common in patients with cancer.
SINS, ESCCS, Tomita score, Tokuhashi score and the Modified Bauer scores are all important tools for determining the most appropriate referral.
In eligible candidates, surgery with adjuvant radiotherapy yields faster and more sustainable neurologic stability and recovery.
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