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Iowa Orthop J. 2006;26:69-76.

Ethanol as a local adjuvant for giant cell tumor of bone.

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Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, 200 Hawkins Drive, 01051 John Pappajohn Pavilion, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA.


Giant cell tumor is an aggressive benign neoplasm of bone. A number of adjuvant agents have been used to supplement intralesional curettage to reduce the otherwise high local recurrence rate. High concentration ethanol is more readily available and less toxic to use than some common alternatives. No report on its use in a group of patients with giant cell tumor is available. Records were retrospectively reviewed for all giant cell tumors treated by intralesional curettage and high concentration ethanol irrigation as the only chemical adjuvant. Twenty-five primary excisional curettages and 12 repeat curettages for giant cell tumors of bone were performed in 31 patients. Patients were followed for a mean of three years and 10 months. There were five recurrences after primary excision procedures, and three after repeat excisions. Only use of a high-speed burr and lower Campanacci staging correlated with reduced recurrence rate, and these were not statistically significant. Most defects were filled with allograft or calcium sulfate. In the 11 patients treated primarily with curettage using a high-speed burr and adjuvant ethanol with minimum two-year follow-up, only one stage 3 lesion in a distal radius recurred. Multiple washes with high concentration ethanol, when used in conjunction with aggressive curettage including high-speed burring, is an effective and safe adjuvant. The necessity of any chemical adjuvant after appropriately aggressive curettage and burring can only be definitively demonstrated with a prospective, randomized, multi-center trial. Until such evidence becomes available, the use of adjuvant ethanol offers a compromise between higher toxicity adjuvants and no chemical adjuvant at all.

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