January 1st 2005
Several key areas must be considered in the diagnosis and managementof spinal cord compression. Because the outcome can be devastating,a diagnosis must be made early and treatment initiated promptly.Although any malignancy can metastasize to the spine, clinicians shouldbe aware that this occurs more commonly in certain diseases, ie, lungcancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and myeloma. The current algorithmfor early diagnosis of spinal cord compression involves neurologicassessment and magnetic resonance imaging of the entire spine.Treatment generally consists of intravenous dexamethasone followedby oral dosing. Depending on the extent of the metastases, symptomsmay also be managed with nonnarcotic pain medicines, anti-inflammatorymedications, and/or bisphosphonates, with local radiation administeredas needed. Surgery has often led to destabilization of the spine.