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Mod Pathol. 2001 Oct;14(10):969-77.

Orthopaedic implant-related sarcoma: a study of twelve cases.

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The James Homer Wright Pathology Laboratories, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.


Sarcoma developing in association with a metallic orthopaedic prosthesis or hardware is an uncommon, but well recognized complication. We review 12 cases of sarcomas arising in bone or soft tissue at the site of orthopaedic hardware or a prosthetic joint. Nine patients were male, and three were female. Their ages ranged from 18 to 85 (mean 55) years at the time of diagnosis of the malignancy. Five patients had undergone hip arthroplasty for degenerative joint disease, four had been treated with intramedullary nail placement for fracture, two had staples placed for fixation of osteotomy, and one had hardware placed for fracture fixation followed years later by a hip arthroplasty. The time interval between the placement of hardware and diagnosis of sarcoma was known in 11 cases and ranged from 2.5 to 33 (mean 11) years. The patients presented with pain, swelling, or loosening of hardware and were found to have a destructive bone or soft tissue mass on radiography. Two sarcomas were located primarily in the soft tissue and 10 in bone. Seven patients developed osteosarcoma, four malignant fibrous histiocytoma, and one a malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor. All sarcomas were high grade. Three patients had metastatic disease at the time of diagnosis. Follow-up was available on eight patients: five patients died of disease 2 months to 8 years (mean 26 months) after diagnosis; two patients died without evidence of disease 7 and 30 months after diagnosis; and one patient is alive and free of disease 8 years after diagnosis. Sarcomas that occur adjacent to orthopaedic prostheses or hardware are of varied types, but are usually osteosarcoma or malignant fibrous histiocytoma. They behave aggressively and frequently metastasize. Clinically, they should be distinguished from non-neoplastic reactions associated with implants, such as infection and a reaction to prosthetic wear debris.

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