Metastatic spinal cord compression: a review of practice and care

Lynn Kilbride (Lead / Corresponding author), Marie Cox, Catriona M. Kennedy, Siew Hwa Lee, Robin Grant

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    15 Citations (Scopus)


    Aim and objectives: The aim of this review was to address: (1) How is spinal stability assessed? (2) What is the role of bracing/should braces be used? (3) When is it safe to mobilise the patient? (4) What position should the patient be nursed in?

    Background: Controversy surrounds the care for patients with metastatic spinal cord compression (MSCC). There is some evidence to indicate that care for patients with MSCC is based on individual clinician preference rather than evidence‐based guidelines which has been shown to cause delays and discrepancies in patient treatment.

    Design: A structured literature review to synthesise the available evidence about the management of MSCC.

    Methods: The following databases were searched: Medline, EMBASE, Cochrane Systematic Reviews Database, SIGN (Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network), NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence), AMED (Allied and Complementary Medicine), CINAHL (Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature) and BNI (British Nursing Index). Publications were selected from the past 10 years. The search yielded a total of 1057 hits, 755 abstracts were screened, and 73 articles were retrieved and examined. Thirty‐five articles were included.

    Results: The findings identified a gap and evidence relating to spinal stability, bracing, patient mobilisation, and positioning is limited and may be inconclusive. It is important for patients with a poor prognosis that their preferences and quality of life are considered.

    Conclusion: Currently, the evidence base to underpin care is limited, and further research in this area is necessary for patients and healthcare professionals alike.

    Relevance to clinical practice: Patients who suffer from MSCC suffer numerous physical, psychological and social issues. Because of lack of consensus, the current guidelines to inform clinical decision‐making of professional staff are of limited benefit.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1767-1783
    Number of pages17
    JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
    Issue number13-14
    Early online date14 Jun 2010
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010


    • spinal stability
    • patient treatment
    • spinal cord compression


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