Dr. Templeton describes limb salvage surgery for bone cancer patients.
Limb salvage surgery for bone cancer means that the area of cancer, an area of bone around it, is removed surgically and the limb is maintained so it’s not an amputation. The area of bone that you removed then is then replaced either with frozen bone from a bone bank or, more typically, a metal replacement similar to the type of replacements that people have for arthritis. It’s just much bigger because you are replacing a bigger area of bone. Bone cancers are frequently next to joints, and so you are frequently looking at replacing the joint, plus a longer segment of bone that you can replace with metal.
The decision to do limb salvage really is not based on how much bone needs to be taken out because there’s always a way to try to repair bone or try to substitute for a bone that’s removed. What usually will push the decision on whether or not a limb--an arm or a leg--can be saved is how much other tissue is involved.
If to remove the entire cancer you need to remove so much bone, excuse me, you need to remove so much muscle that you don’t have an arm or a leg that’s going to function even if you replace the bone, or if there are blood vessels or nerves that you can’t bypass or reconstruct or somehow put back together, then probably limb salvage is not a good option because although the arm or leg is there, if it doesn’t function, it is really not helpful and someone would be better off with an artificial arm or leg. But if it is something where we are looking at not taking out very much soft tissue or the tissue around the bone, and just it’s primarily in bone, then that usually can be treated with limb salvage.
About Dr. Kim Templeton, M.D.:
Kim Templeton, M.D., received her degree from the University of Missouri School of Medicine with a specialty in orthopedics and musculoskeletal oncology and began her career with an orthopedic residency at Chicago's Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center.
She then accepted a Musculoskeletal Oncology Fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. In 1995, she came to the KU School of Medicine, where her commitment to excellence and orthopedic education has opened the way to positions of leadership. She is now the Director of the Orthopedic Residency Education Program at the University of Kansas School of Medicine, holds the first Joy McCann Professorship for Women in Medicine and Science, and currently serves as president of the KU Medical Center's Women in Medicine and Science program.