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Extendible replacements of the proximal tibia for bone tumours

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Limb salvage is now customary in the treatment of primary bone tumours. The proximal tibia is a frequent site for these neoplasms but reconstruction, especially in children, is a formidable challenge. We reviewed 20 children with extendible replacements of the proximal tibia, all with a minimum follow-up of five years. Five died from their disease and, of the remaining 15, four had above-knee amputations for complications. Infection occurred in seven patients; in five it was related to the lengthening procedure. Aseptic loosening is inevitable in the younger children and only two have avoided a revision, amputation or other major complication; both were aged 12 years at the time of the initial surgery. Despite this, 11 children are alive with a functioning leg and a mean Musculoskeletal Tumour Society functional score of 83%. The lengthening mechanisms used in our series required extensive open operations. We are now using a simpler, minimally invasive, technique which we hope will decrease the incidence of complications. At present, the use of extendible prostheses of the proximal tibia remains an experimental procedure.

Correspondence should be sent to Mr R. J. Grimer.

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