Greater Washington Plastic Surgery Associates | Vineet Mehan, MD, | Earl M. Johnson, Jr., MD,

6 things you should know about limb salvage surgery

limb salvage surgery | Dominion plastic surgery | FAlls CHurch, VAReceiving a cancer diagnosis is a scary thing in and of itself, but learning you may have to lose a limb to remove the tumor can make it even scarier. Amputation isn’t the only way to remove cancer from the arm or the leg. Limb-salvage surgery is a way to remove cancer and spare the limb. Here are things you should know about this surgical treatment.

Limb-salvage surgery is a treatment for osteosarcoma. Osteosarcoma is the most common type of cancer that starts in the bones. Most of these cancers occur in children and young adults.

The most common sites for these tumors to develop are around the knee. Osteosarcoma can develop in any bone, but most tumors develop in the lower part of the thigh bone or upper part of the shinbone. The upper arm bone close to the shoulder is another common site.

There are two ways to remove the tumors. Amputation consists of removing all or part of an arm or leg to remove cancer. Limb-salvage surgery removes cancer and surrounding tissue but leaving the limb basically intact.

Limb-salvage surgery is an option for most patients. This surgical option depends on where the tumor is located, how big it is, and whether it has grown into nearby structures. The bone and tissue surrounding the tumor may be removed.

The section of bone removed during limb-salvage surgery is replaced with a bone graft or internal prosthesis. A bone graft is a piece of bone taken from another part of the patient’s body or from another person. An internal prosthesis is a man-made device made of metal and other materials and is implanted to replace the section removed.

Physical rehabilitation is more intense than it is with amputation. Rehabilitation is extremely important to make sure the spared limb can be utilized and not become useless. It can take a year or more for patients who have had surgery on their legs to learn to walk again.

Limb salvage is a complicated surgery but with recommended rehab offers the best chance for long-term limb function. To learn more, call Dominion Plastic Surgery at (703) 544-8971 today.

Posted in: Lower Extremity Reconstruction

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