Long term behavior of pedicled vascularized fibular grafts in reconstruction of middle and distal tibia after resection of malignant bone tumors

Magdy El-Sherbiny
Journal of the Egyptian National Cancer Institute 2008, 20 (2): 187-95

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to evaluate the long term behavior of pedicled vascualrized fibula graft in reconstruction of middle and distal tibia defects following malignant tumor resection with particular emphasis on success in limb salvage and the specific late related complications.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Between 1997 and 2006, 16 patients having malignant bone tumors of the middle tibia (10 cases) and distal tibia (6 cases) were candidate for wide resection of their tumors and reconstruction of the bony defect by ipsilateral vascularized pedicled fibular graft based on the peroneal vessels. There were 9 males and 7 females with a mean age of 13 years at time of surgery (range 11-23 years). Mean follow up period was 52 months (range 32 -110 months). Fixation was done by cast in 14 cases and by plate and screws in 2 patients. According to the Enneking staging system (1), 9 patients had stage IIB and 7 had stage IIA. Bony union and hypertrophy were assessed radio graphically on regular basis. Hypertrophy was estimated in a percentage. Functional limb results were also reported according to MSTS functional scores [2].

RESULTS: The mean length of bony gap bridged was 14 cm (range of 11.0-16.0 cm) and the mean length of fibula harvested was 15.5 cm (range 12-17 cm). Ninety seven percent of patients (15 cases) healed primarily at a mean time of 4.8 months (range 3.5-6 months). Hypertrophy was evident in all patients and ranged from 60 to 210% (mean 91% ). Increase in size of the hypertrophied fibula beyond the recipient bone was noticed in three cases (18.7% ) and we relate this to weight-bearing forces and not to the size of the recipient bone. The mean time of the fibula to double its size (10 cases) was 21 months (range 18-31 months). Young patients developed full hypertrophy earlier than older patients. Complication rate was low. One patient had non union at the proximal end of the fibulotibial junction and two patients had stress fracture of the fibula.

CONCLUSION: Long term follow-up of pedicled vascularized fibula in reconstruction of bony defects of the middle or distal tibia after bone tumor resection showed that it is a useful tool in the limb salvage procedure. It is a short procedure, inexpensive, with low rate of late complications. It has a good outcome regarding the union, hypertrophy and the functional outcome.

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