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Iowa Orthop J. 2013;33:119-29.

Factors affecting outcomes in patients treated surgically for upper extremity tumors and tumor-like lesions.

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  • 1University of Iowa Department of Orthopaedic Surgery , Iowa City , IA 52242.


There is little data available regarding outcomes of patients who have undergone surgery for tumors of the upper extremity. Functional data after surgery for upper extremity tumors would aid in guiding patient expectations in the peri-operative period. The purpose of this study was to identify patient, tumor, and surgery-related characteristics associated with patient-reported physical and emotional function before and after surgery for tumors of the upper extremity. Pre- and post-operative mental and physical Medical Outcomes Study Short Form 36 (SF-36) scores were collected from 79 patients with benign and malignant neoplasms of the upper extremity. A retrospective chart review was performed to ascertain whether tumor behavior, type, location, patient sex, age, surgical specimen size, or type of surgery were correlated with differing outcomes. Our outcome measure was patient-reported physical and mental score (SF-36) at less than one year, one to two years, and greater than two years post-operatively. We found that patients with tumors proximal to the elbow and patients with right-sided tumors had statistically significantly lower post-operative physical scores at minimum two-year follow-up (p=0.02). Additionally, lower physical scores were associated with age greater than 50 (p=0.03) and tumor resection rather than curettage (p=0.01). The subset of patients with hereditary multiple exostoses had significantly lower post-operative physical scores than other patient sub-populations. There was no difference in physical function after surgery between patients with benign and malignant tumors, patients with tumors larger than 5 cm and less than 5 cm in greatest dimension, and patients with bone versus soft tissue tumors. Interestingly, we found that there was no difference in mental function scores between any comparisons. Our results suggest that patient age, tumor location, and type of surgery are correlated with patient-reported physical function following surgery. These findings could be helpful in counseling patients undergoing surgery for tumors of the upper extremity.

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