Limb-Sparing Surgery For Bone Cancer

How is limb-sparing surgery done in the treatment of bone cancer?

Limb-sparing surgery, also known as limb-salvage surgery, is done to remove a tumor or to avoid amputation for patients of bone cancer or soft-tissue sarcoma. The aim is to eliminate cancer while preserving as much as possible of tendons, nerves, and blood vessels so the patient can function optimally with the affected limb.

Picture of a x-ray of a hand

The surgery (also called wide local excision) removes both the tumor and an extra margin of the surrounding healthy tissue. If it also removes a part of a bone, a metal rod (implant) or pieces of other bone (called graft) replace that bone. Soft tissue or muscle from other healthy parts of the body help close the wound. Eventually, the limb replaced fuses with the original bone and makes movement possible.

Who gets limb-sparing surgery?

Patients with osteosarcoma, Ewing sarcoma, and other sarcomas are those who are likely to get a limb-sparing surgery. But this usually depends on several other factors:

  • The size of the tumor
  • It’s metastasis
  • It’s location

However, limb-sparing surgery might not be an option if the tumor is too close to a muscle or a nerve.

Who needs a limb-sparing surgery?

Patients with osteosarcoma, Ewing’s sarcoma, and other sarcomas have biopsies done before and after chemotherapy. The surgery comes after this procedure.

An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is done to see if the chemotherapy has caused the tumor to shrink.

After surgery

After surgery, a multi-disciplinary team helps the patient with physiotherapy and rehabilitation therapy. Additionally, a patient may get social and emotional support from friends and family.

Possible Risks

Risks of infection and shock are very likely. Read more on the Consequences of surgery for the treatment of bone cancer.

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