Bone Cancer: Rare Procedure Can Save
Life and Limb
For patients with a rare type of bone cancer, a procedure called total femur replacement can be life-saving and limb-sparing. Physicians at Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin are among a small handful of doctors in the state who perform this unusual operation.
Hip to KneeAccording to David King, MD, Medical College of Wisconsin orthopedic oncologist, cancer in the femur (thigh bone) is usually confined to a single tumor. In rare cases, however, the cancer can spread through the entire bone. Twenty-five years ago, says Dr. King, treatment options were limited. In extreme situations, the only choice was amputation. In other cases, doctors could replace the femur with a donor bone, or allograft. The drawback is that allografts normally weaken and fail after about ten years.
Total femur replacement became an option in the early 1980s. In this procedure, surgeons remove the entire thigh bone and replace it with a metal prosthesis. The implant includes a total knee replacement and a partial or total hip replacement.
“The nice thing about total femur replacement is that the patient can put his or her full weight on the leg right away,” notes Dr. King. “You can walk the day after surgery.” Best of all, the prosthesis is durable — King says femur replacements have held up very well over a decade and more.
Custom-Made For Each PatientThe first total femur replacements were custom-made for each patient. Starting in the1990s, says Dr. King, manufacturers introduced modular systems that can be adjusted to the patient’s individual anatomy.
In addition to Dr. King, the bone and soft tissue cancer group at Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin includes Medical College of Wisconsin Orthopedic Oncologist Donald Hackbarth, MD.
Source: Froedtert Today
Date: November 2004