A retrospective study of 13 patients with metastases to the upper cervical spine was designed to examine the clinical efficacy of surgical treatment. All patients had severe neck pain and two had quadriplegia. Eleven patients underwent operative posterior stabilization, and two patients were treated with a brace and radiotherapy. Pain relief after surgery was significant so that 10 of the 11 patients could leave bed and resume their normal activities. The other two patients who were treated nonoperatively had severe dementia and sudden death from a respiratory arrest after a fall, despite temporary relief from pain. Surgery may be very successful in improving the quality of life of patients who have pain and/or paralysis caused by metastases to the upper cervical spine.
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