Between 1996 and 2003, 16 patients (nine female, seven male) were treated for a primary bone sarcoma of the femur by wide local excision of the tumour, extracorporeal irradiation and re-implantation. An additional vascularised fibular graft was used in 13 patients (81%). All patients were free from disease when reviewed at a minimum of two years postoperatively (mean 49.7 months (24 to 96).
There were no cases of infection. Primary union was achieved after a median of nine months (interquartile range 7 to 11). Five host-donor junctions (16%) united only after a second procedure. Primary union recurred faster at metaphyseal junctions (94% (15) at a median of 7.5 months (interquartile range 4 to 12)) than at diaphyseal junctions (75% (12) at a median of 11.1 months (interquartile range 5 to 18)).
Post-operatively, the median Musculoskeletal Tumour Society score was 85% (interquartile range 75 to 96) and the median Toronto Extremity Salvage score 94% (interquartile range 82 to 99). The Mankin score gave a good or excellent result in 14 patients (88%).
The range of movement of the knee was significantly worse when the extracorporeally irradiated autografts were fixed by plates rather than by nails (p = 0.035).
A total of 16 (62%) of the junctions of the vascularised fibular grafts underwent hypertrophy, indicating union and loading.
Extracorporeal irradiation autografting with supplementary vascularised fibular grafting is a promising biological alternative for intercalary reconstruction after wide resection of malignant bone tumours of the femur.