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Clin Orthop Relat Res. 1986 Mar;(204):45-58.

Giant cell tumor of bone.


Giant cell tumor GCT of bone remains a difficult and challenging management problem because there are no absolute clinical, radiographic, or histologic parameters that accurately predict the tendency of any single lesion to recur or metastasize. Enneking's and Campanacci's radiographic classifications and surgical staging are helpful in planning the initial surgical treatment, because they have observed that a number of the active (Stage 2) lesions and most of the aggressive (Stage 3) lesions have a higher incidence of local recurrence when treated by curettage alone. The bad reputation of curettage and bone grafting is undeserved and arose because of the indiscriminate application of this technique to lesions irrespective of their surgical stage. The ideal aim in the management of GCT is to eradicate the tumor and still save the joint. Curettage, possibly with adjuvant chemical or thermal cauterization, and with bone grafting or polymethyl methacrylate instillation, maintains the structural integrity of the bone and allows for early function. Good results with these techniques when applied to Stage 1 and many Stage 2 lesions may be expected in 70%--80% of the cases. Repetitive freezes with liquid nitrogen, though resulting in a lower recurrence rate, carry with them a not insignificant risk of local complications, require prolonged bracing, and incur the risk of late fracture. When GCTs occur in expendable bones, en bloc resection is the treatment of choice. En bloc resection of major joints requires a facility with reconstruction techniques including the use of allografts, large autogenous grafts and fusion, or custom arthroplasty. These are technically difficult procedures with many early and late complications. Patients have restricted function, and may require prolonged bracing even when uncomplicated. These techniques are therefore reserved for the Stage 3 and selected Stage 2 lesions. Hand lesions have been ineffectively treated by curettage and grafting, and are best treated by early en bloc or ray resection. Multicentric lesions should be handled as individual primary tumors would be in those locations. Radiation therapy has its major role in the treatment of giant cell tumors of the spine and sacrum that are not amenable to complete surgical resection, though long-term sarcomatous change must be looked for. Because of the complex management problem this rare tumor presents, it is recommended that management of giant cell tumor of bone, including the biopsy, the definitive surgery, and the follow-up examination, be carried out by individuals and institutions familiar with this entity.

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