Oncologic defects resulting from extremity amputations are often extensive and require substantial soft tissue for reconstruction.
A review of all patients, who underwent an external hemipelvectomy, forequarter amputation, or hindquarter amputation from 2001 to 2010 at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, was performed.
A total of 50 patients were identified; of them, 21 underwent external hemipelvectomy, 22 had forequarter amputation, and 7 had hindquarter amputation. The mean defect size was 644 cm2; defects were repaired using fillet flaps (n = 22, 44%), free flaps (n = 4, 8%), or local/regional flaps (n = 24, 48%). Of the fillet flaps, 16 were free flaps and the remaining were pedicled flaps. In all, 29 patients (58%) received preoperative radiation therapy, and 26 patients (52%) received preoperative chemotherapy. Two patients (4%) received postoperative radiation therapy, and 1 patient (2%) received postoperative chemotherapy. Three patients received both pre- and postoperative radiation therapy, and 10 patients were treated with both pre- and postoperative chemotherapy. Patients undergoing free flap reconstruction had significantly fewer complications compared with patients reconstructed using other modalities (2/20 vs. 13/30; P = 0.003). The majority of patients achieved excellent postoperative function, with 73% of upper extremity patients functioning independently and 57% of lower extremity amputees ambulating.
Reconstruction for extensive defects following oncologic extremity amputation is often optimally done using free tissue transfer, particularly by salvaging “spare parts” from the amputated limb for a free fillet flap.