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October 1996

Vascular Reconstruction for Limb Salvage in Sarcoma of the Lower Extremity

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Vascular Surgery (Drs Koperna, Teleky, Vogl, and Polterauer), Orthopedic Surgery (Drs Windhager, Schatz, and Kotz), and Radiology (Dr Kainberger), University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.

Arch Surg. 1996;131(10):1103-1107. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1996.01430220097023

Objectives:  To examine the patency and limb-salvage characteristics of vascular reconstruction in patients with sarcomas of the lower extremity who had been treated with limb-preserving resection and to examine patient survival during a long follow-up period.

Design:  Retrospective cohort study.

Setting:  University hospital, tertiary referral center.

Patients:  From 1984 to 1992, 14 patients underwent limb-preserving resection of sarcomas in the proximal lower extremity, with 20 vascular reconstructions performed.

Outcome Measures:  Color Doppler scans documented patency of the vascular reconstructions. Clinical evaluation included functional results in terms of limb movement and quality of life. Local tumor control and systemic recurrence were examined by repeated radiologic examination. Overall survival as well as time and cause of death were assessed.

Results:  A total of 13 patients had patent vascular grafts, while the venous graft became occluded in 1 patient. Limb function was rated as excellent or good in 9 patients, as fair in 3, as poor in 1, and could not be clinically estimated in 1. Postoperative thrombosis of the venous graft was detected in 3 patients and was effectively managed by thrombectomy in 2. Three patients underwent reoperation because of hematoma or complications caused by local infection. The tumor endoprosthesis had to be replaced in 3 patients. During follow-up periods that ranged from 15 to 132 months (mean, 55 months), 4 patients died. In all of these patients the cause of death was systemic recurrence in the lung. Two additional patients developed pulmonary metastases, but at the time of this report, they were still alive as long as 132 months after operative resection or chemotherapy. No local recurrence was found.

Conclusion:  Limb-preserving resection of sarcoma of the lower extremity can be performed with satisfactory function of the limb maintained, even if it becomes necessary to resect the femoral vessels. Autologous venous graft for vascular reconstruction is the treatment of choice. In spite of the high incidence of metastases, considerable long-term survival is possible.Arch Surg. 1996;131:1103-1107