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International Journal of Surgical Oncology
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 769753, 12 pages
Review Article

Imaging of Spinal Metastatic Disease

Neuroradiology Division, Department of Radiology, School of Medicine, The University of Utah, 1A71 SOM, 50 N. Medical Drive, Salt Lake City, UT 84132, USA

Received 2 January 2011; Accepted 20 August 2011

Academic Editor: Alessandro Gasbarrini

Copyright © 2011 Lubdha M. Shah and Karen L. Salzman. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Metastases to the spine can involve the bone, epidural space, leptomeninges, and spinal cord. The spine is the third most common site for metastatic disease, following the lung and the liver. Approximately 60–70% of patients with systemic cancer will have spinal metastasis. Materials/Methods. This is a review of the imaging techniques and typical imaging appearances of spinal metastatic disease. Conclusions. Awareness of the different manifestations of spinal metastatic disease is essential as the spine is the most common site of osseous metastatic disease. Imaging modalities have complimentary roles in the evaluation of spinal metastatic disease. CT best delineates osseous integrity, while MRI is better at assessing soft tissue involvement. Physiologic properties, particularly in treated disease, can be evaluated with other imaging modalities such as FDG PET and advanced MRI sequences. Imaging plays a fundamental role in not only diagnosis but also treatment planning of spinal metastatic disease.