Single-Stage, Multimodality Treatment of Soft-Tissue Sarcoma of the Extremity

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Abstract

The present study describes the techniques available for single-stage sarcoma resection, soft-tissue reconstruction, and radiotherapy for limb preservation in patients who are unable to undergo primary wound closure after a complete soft-tissue resection of their primary sarcoma. From 1989 to 1994, 19 patients (age range, 18–79 years; mean, 51.2 years) underwent radical resection of extremity sarcomas followed by immediate reconstruction. Seven patients had tumors in the upper extremity and 12 patients had tumors in the lower extremity. There were 13 primary tumors and 6 recurrent tumors. Fifteen patients (79%) received radiation therapy, 7 patients by external beam and 8 patients by brachytherapy. Reconstruction included 16 regional flaps in 13 patients and 7 free tissue transfers in 6 patients. Commonly used flaps included the rectus abdominis (N = 5), the latissimus dorsi (N = 4), the anterolateral thigh (N = 4), the reverse-flow radial forearm (N = 2), and the gastrocnemius (N = 2) flaps. Complications included wound breakdown (N = 2), partial skin graft failure (N = 1), hematoma requiring operative evacuation (N = 1), and partial flap necrosis (N = 1). There were no operative mortalities. Eight patients underwent wide local excision, flap closure, and brachytherapy. Mean length of hospital stay for this group was 12.3 days compared with 13.8 days for the remaining 11 patients. There was one complication (13%) in this group and four complications in the remaining patients (4 of 11; 36%). Our study confirms the utility of soft-tissue reconstruction to permit wide local excision with clear margins as well as the delivery of postoperative radiotherapy. It demonstrates the ability of pedicled flaps and free tissue transfers to remain viable and provide sufficient wound coverage in the setting of early postoperative brachytherapy. In addition, this series illustrates the efficacy of a team approach and one-stage therapy for extremity soft-tissue. Sarcomas that includes excision, reconstruction, and early postoperative brachytherapy in a single hospitalization.

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