Free Vascularized Fibular Grafting for Reconstruction After Tumor Resection in the Upper Extremity

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Limb salvage is viable in the majority of patients with malignant bone tumors, but especially in case of extensive tumors and bad soft tissue conditions, it is challenging in upper extremity.


The clinical and radiological results of 21 patients, who had free vascularized fibular grafts (VFG), for diaphyseal (14), and epipyseal (7) defect reconstruction of the upper extremity, are presented. The indications for VFG were resection after osteosarcoma (9 cases), Ewings sarcoma (9 cases), chondrosarcoma (1 case), rhabdomyosarcoma (1 case), and 1 case of fibrous dysplasia. The 20 malignant tumors were staged as follows: 2a (1), 2b (18), 3 (1). The mean follow-up was 43.6 months (min 6.0-max 131.9). Functional results were described and graded quantitatively according to the MSTS-score.


Results were satisfactory with regard to pain, emotional acceptance, manual dexterity, and function. Lifting ability was decreased in two patients. Hypertrophy index was 31% (min 13%-max 71%). Main complications were fracture (5), pseudoarthrosis (4), prolonged wound healing (4), temporary nerve irritation (2), and deep infection (1). Re-operation was required in eight patients (12 operations).


VFG offers a good possibility for biological reconstruction of large skeletal defects, with an acceptable complication and re-operation rate. When conservative treatment of complications was not successful, further surgery led to recovery in the majority of cases.

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