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Med J Malaysia. 2006 Feb;61 Suppl A:57-61.

Forequarter amputation of the upper extremity for musculoskeletal tumors: posterior approach revisited.

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Musculoskeletal Oncology Unit, School of Medical Science Universiti Sains Malaysia, Kubang Kerian, Kelantan, Malaysia.


Forequarter amputation entails surgical removal of entire upper extremity, scapula and clavicle. Several techniques of forequarter amputation have been described. The anterior approach has been the preferred technique of exploration of axillary vessels and brachial plexus. The posterior approach has been condemned to be unreliable and dangerous for most large tumor of the scapula and suprascapular area. We describe a surgical technique using posterior approach of exploration of major vessels for forequarter amputation of upper extremity in eight patients who presented with humeral-scapular tumor. There were six patients with osteosarcoma: three with tumor recurrent and three chemotherapy recalcitrant tumors with vessels involvement. One patient had massive fungating squamous cell carcinoma and another had recurrent rhabdomyosarcoma. Four patients had fungating ulcer and six patients had multiple pulmonary metastases at the time of surgery. The mean estimated blood transfusion was 900 ml (range 0-1600 ml) and two patients did not require transfusion. The duration of surgery ranged 2.5-6.0 hours (mean 3.8 hours). Two patients with known pulmonary metastases required post-operative intensive care monitoring. The mean duration of survival was 5.8 months. The posterior approach of exploring major vessels for forequarter amputation of upper extremity with musculoskeletal tumor is safe and reliable.

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