Many patients with metastatic spinal cord compression (MSCC) have spinal instability but are determined, by their clinician, to be unsuitable for surgical internal fixation due to their advanced disease. Mobilisation may be hazardous in the presence of spinal instability as further vertebral collapse can occur. Current guidance on positioning (or mobilisation) and spinal bracing is contradictory.
To investigate the correct positioning (or mobilisation) and examine the effects of spinal bracing to relieve pain or to prevent further vertebral collapse in patients with MSCC.
The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, CANCERLIT, NICE, SIGN, AMED, TRIP, National Guideline Clearinghouse and PEDro database were searched; the last search was run in February 2012.
We selected randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of adults with MSCC of interventions on positioning or mobilisation and bracing.
Data collection and analysis
Two review authors independently assessed each possible study for inclusion and quality.
One thousand, six hundred and eleven potentially relevant studies were screened. No studies met the inclusion criteria. Many papers identified the importance of mobilisation but no RCTs have been undertaken. No RCTs of bracing in MSCC were identified.
There is lack of evidence based guidance around how to correctly position and when to mobilise patients with MSCC or if spinal bracing is an effective technique for reducing pain or improving quality of life. RCTs are required in this important area.