Merkel Cell Spinal Metastasis: Management in the Setting of a Poor Prognosis

C. Rory Goodwin, Ankit I. Mehta, Owoicho Adogwa, Rachel Sarabia-Estrada, Daniel M. Sciubba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Study Design Case report. Objective Merkel cell carcinoma is an aggressive neuroendocrine carcinoma with a poor prognosis. Metastatic epidural spinal cord compression (MESCC) is a debilitating disease causing neurologic deficits. The surgical management for MESCC depends on pathology. Methods We report a case of Merkel cell carcinoma of the spine and evaluate the treatment paradigms utilized in the prior reports. Result A 76-year-old man with a history of Merkel cell carcinoma presented with 2-week history of progressive difficulty ambulating and a solitary T5 epidural mass encasing the spinal cord. The patient underwent a T5 corpectomy with cage placement and T3 to T7 posterior fusion with postoperative neurologic improvement and a return to ambulation. Three weeks postoperatively, the patient re-presented with new-onset weakness and widespread metastatic spinal disease with epidural compression at the T8 level. Six weeks postoperatively, he was placed in hospice care. Conclusion Prior reports in the literature demonstrated a poor prognosis for Merkel cell carcinoma metastasis to the spine with survival ranging from 1 to 9 months after diagnosis. Although neurologic decline necessitates a surgical intervention, the assessment of operative benefit should take into account the prognosis associated with the primary tumor subtype.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-43
Number of pages5
JournalGlobal Spine Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2015


  • Merkel cell carcinoma
  • fusion
  • metastasis
  • prognosis
  • spine
  • surgery
  • tumor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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