Background: The complication rate for palliative surgery in spinal metastasis is relatively high, and major complications can impair the patient's activities of daily living. However, surgical indications are determined based primarily on the prognosis of the cancer, with the risk of complications not truly considered. We aimed to identify the risk predictors for perioperative complications in palliative surgery for spinal metastasis. Methods: A multicentered, retrospective review of 195 consecutive patients with spinal metastasis who underwent palliative surgeries with posterior procedures from 2001 to 2016 was performed. We evaluated the type and incidence of perioperative complications within 14 days after surgery. Patients were categorized into either the complication group (C) or no-complication group (NC). Univariate and multivariate analyses were used to identify potential predictors for perioperative complications. Results: Thirty patients (15%) experienced one or more complications within 14 days of surgery. The most frequent complications were surgical site infection (4%) and motor weakness (3%). A history of diabetes mellitus (C; 37%, NC; 9%: p < 0.01) and surgical time over 300 min (C; 27%, NC; 12%: p < 0.05) were significantly associated with complications according to univariate analysis. Increased blood loss and non-ambulatory status were determined to be potential risk factors. Of these factors, multivariate logistic regression revealed that a history of diabetes mellitus (OR: 6.6, p < 0.001) and blood loss over 1 L (OR: 2.7, p < 0.05) were the independent risk factors for perioperative complications. There was no difference in glycated hemoglobin A1c between the diabetes patients with and without perioperative complications. Conclusions: Diabetes mellitus should be used for the risk stratification of surgical candidates regardless of the treatment status, and strict prevention of bleeding is needed in palliative surgeries with posterior procedures to mitigate the risk of perioperative complications.
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