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Ann Surg. 1989 Jul;210(1):93-9.

Wound complications of adjuvant radiation therapy in patients with soft-tissue sarcomas.

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Department of Surgery, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York 10021.


Adjuvant radiation therapy by the brachytherapy technique has been suggested by us to diminish local recurrence following resection of extremity and superficial truncal soft-tissue sarcoma. However, loading of the catheters with radioactive sources on the first through the fifth postoperative days results in a 48% significant wound-complication rate. Our previous animal experiments would suggest that delay of application of radiation to one week after wounding is accompanied by significant improvement in wound-breaking strength, new H3 hydroxyproline accumulation, and improved force-tension curves. As part of our ongoing prospective randomized trial of the effects of brachytherapy on local control, one change was made: the catheters were loaded five or more days after operation. Wound complications were then reviewed in 50 patients following this single change in brachytherapy delivery. Of the 21 patients receiving brachytherapy, 14% had significant wound complications; 10% of the 29 patients who did not receive radiation had wound complications of similar severity. This decrease in wound complications represents a major improvement over our prior experience and suggests that the timing of radioactive source loading in the postoperative period is a major factor in radiation-induced wound-healing delay.

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