Functional Results and Emotional Acceptance after Scapulectomy for Malignant Shoulder Tumors

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To demonstrate the functional results and emotional acceptance after scapulectomy for various malignant shoulder tumors.


Eight patients with malignant shoulder tumors who had undergone scapulectomy between April 2004 and March 2014 were retrospectively reviewed. They comprised seven men and one woman their mean age was 54 years (range, 24–69 years). All patients were diagnosed by pathological examination of biopsy specimens. The tumors were metastatic in four cases, having originated from a primary carcinoma of the liver in one patient, the lung in one patient and the kidney in two patients. The other four patients had primary malignant tumors in their scapulae, specifically, two scapular malignant fibrous histiocytomas, one scapular Ewing sarcoma and one soft tissue synovial sarcoma. The four patients with metastases were staged as III, and other four were staged as IIB. Six patients underwent total and two subtotal scapulectomy. The remaining soft tissues were sutured together directly in seven of the patients. The remaining patient, who had soft tissue synovial sarcoma, required transfer of a pedicle latissimus dorsi muscle flap. The functional results and emotional acceptance were evaluated by clinician using the Musculoskeletal Tumor Society (MSTS) scoring system.


The average duration of follow-up was 22.8 months. Four patients were continuously disease-free, three patients developed metastases and died of disease within 12 months of surgery and one patient with a scapular metastasis from the kidney survived with pulmonary nodules. No major complications, including infection or dislocation, occurred during or after surgery. The mean MSTS score was 16.3 (54%), which is similar to that previously reported in other studies of scapulectomy. There were no local tumor recurrences and only one patient developed pulmonary metastases. These outcomes are similar to those reported for scapular prostheses and there were fewer complications than in patients treated with allografts. The mean emotional acceptance score was 3.6 (72.5%).


Performing scapulectomies on patients with malignant shoulder tumors without prostheses or allograft reconstruction achieves good functional results and emotional acceptance with a low rate of complications.

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