The role of radiation therapy in the treatment of spine metastases from hepatocellular carcinoma: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Gianluca Ferini, Paolo Palmisciano, Gianluca Scalia, Ali S. Haider, Othman Bin-Alamer, Navraj S. Sagoo, Ismail Bozkurt, Harsh Deora, Stefano M. Priola, Salah G. Aoun, Giuseppe E. Umana

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1 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE Spine hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) metastases severely worsen quality of life and prognosis, with the role of radiotherapy being controversial. The authors systematically reviewed the literature on radiotherapy for spine metastatic HCCs. METHODS The PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, and Cochrane databases were searched according to the PRISMA guidelines to include studies of radiotherapy for spine metastatic HCCs. Outcomes, complications, and local control were analyzed with indirect random-effect meta-analyses. RESULTS The authors included 12 studies comprising 713 patients. The median time interval from diagnosis of HCC to spine metastases was 12 months (range 0–105 months). Most lesions were thoracic (35.9%) or lumbar (24.7%). Radiotherapy was delivered with conventional external-beam (67.3%) or stereotactic (31.7%) techniques. The median dose was 30.3 Gy (range 12.5–52 Gy) in a median of 5 fractions (range 1–20 fractions). The median biologically effective dose was 44.8 Gy10 (range 14.4–112.5 Gy10). Actuarial rates of postradiotherapy pain relief and radiological response were 87% (95% CI 84%–90%) and 70% (95% CI 65%–75%), respectively. Radiation-related adverse events and vertebral fractures had actuarial rates of 8% (95% CI 5%–11%) and 16% (95% CI 10%–23%), respectively, with fracture rates significantly higher after stereotactic radiotherapy (p = 0.033). Fifty-eight patients (27.6%) had local recurrences after a median of 6.8 months (range 0.1–59 months), with pooled local control rates of 61.6% at 6 months and 40.8% at 12 months, and there were no significant differences based on radiotherapy type (p = 0.068). The median survival was 6 months (range 0.1–62 months), with pooled rates of 52.5% at 6 months and 23.4% at 12 months. CONCLUSIONS Radiotherapy in spine metastatic HCCs shows favorable rates of pain relief, radiological responses, and local control. Rates of postradiotherapy vertebral fractures are higher after high-dose stereotactic radiotherapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberE12
JournalNeurosurgical focus
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2022


  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Radiation-induced complications
  • Spine metastases
  • Spine radiotherapy
  • Stereotactic radiotherapy
  • Vertebral fractures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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