Limb salvage has been achieved for patients with sarcoma by means of compartmental resection, soft-tissue reconstruction, and adjuvant therapy without increased rates of local recurrence, metastasis, or mortality. Despite the prevalence of limb salvage procedures in the treatment of these tumors, relatively little information has been published regarding late functional results in these reconstructed extremities. This study reports on the functional outcome for soft-tissue reconstruction for limb salvage in patients with sarcoma. Over the past 6 years, 28 patients were treated for sarcomas of the extremity in which soft-tissue reconstruction was needed for complete limb salvage. The mean age of these patients was 48 years (range, 14 to 83 years); there were 14 male and 14 female patients. Of the 28 sarcomas, 23 cases involved the lower extremity and 5 cases were in the upper extremity. Reconstruction was performed primarily in 12 patients; 16 reconstructions were performed secondarily because of wound complications after initial extirpation. Adjuvant radiation therapy was administered either preoperatively or postoperatively in all cases. Of the 33 reconstructive procedures performed in these 28 patients, 16 involved free flaps and 17 involved local flaps. All patients achieved initial limb salvage after the reconstructive procedure (s). Mean follow-up was 38 months. Twenty patients were available for the evaluation portion of the study. Two patients had delayed amputations: one for recurrent disease and another for osteoradionecrosis. Two patients died before beginning the examination process: one patient from the sarcoma and another patient from colon cancer. Twenty of the remaining 24 patients agreed to participate and were examined using the Enneking outcome measurement scale. Patients were examined for range of motion, deformity, stability, pain level, strength, functional activity, and emotional acceptance and assigned a numerical score for each category. Based on this, an overall rating of excellent, good, fair, or poor was assigned. Nine patients (45 percent) achieved an overall rating of excellent, five patients (25 percent) achieved a rating of good, and six patients (30 percent) achieved a fair score. None had received a rating of poor. There were no differences in the results obtained comparing upper versus lower extremity, immediate versus delayed reconstruction, or reconstructions performed with a free flap versus a pedicled flap. This study supports the continued use of soft-tissue reconstruction for limb salvage in sarcoma surgery, with good to excellent late functional results obtained in the majority of patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1576-1583
Number of pages8
JournalPlastic and reconstructive surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1998


Dive into the research topics of 'Functional outcome after soft-tissue reconstruction for limb salvage after sarcoma surgery'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this