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Very long-term outcomes after endoprosthetic replacement for malignant tumours of bone

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The aim of this study was to establish what happens to patients in the long term after endoprosthetic replacement for a primary malignant tumour of bone.

Patients and Methods

We conducted a retrospective analysis of a prospectively maintained database to identify all patients who had undergone an endoprosthetic replacement more than 25 years ago and who were still alive. Their outcomes were investigated with reference to their complications and need for further surgery. A total of 230 patients were identified. Their mean age at diagnosis was 20.7 years (five to 62). The most common diagnosis was osteosarcoma (132). The most common site was the distal femur (102).


The mean follow-up was 29.4 years (25 to 43). A total of 610 further operations were undertaken, an average of 2.7 further operations per patient. A total of 42 patients (18%) still had the original prosthesis in place. The risk of amputation was 16% at 30 years (31 patients). Those without infection had a mean of 2.1 further operations (one to nine) while those with infection had a mean of 4.6 further operations (two to 11). The risk of infection persisted throughout the life of the prosthesis with a mean of 1% per year becoming infected. Of the 60 patients who developed an infection, 21 (35%) developed this following the primary procedure at a mean of 50 months, but another 19 developed this within a year of another surgical procedure. The risk of infection after any further surgery was 2.7%. The site with the highest risk of infection was the proximal tibia (43.3%).

Take home message: This study highlights the inevitable need for further surgery following first-generation endoprosthetic reconstruction, although in most cases, limb salvage is maintained. Late complications, especially infection, continue for the lifetime of the implant.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2016;98-B:857–64.

Correspondence should be sent to Mr M. C. Parry; e-mail:

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