Resuscitating extremities after soft tissue sarcoma resections: Are functional reconstructions an overlooked option in limb salvage? A systematic review

Enrico Martin, Max J. Dullaart, Michiel A.J. van de Sande, Winan J. van Houdt, Pascal P.A. Schellekens, J. Henk Coert*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Although resection of extremity soft tissue sarcomas can occasionally lead to large disabilities, literature regarding the necessity and outcome of functional reconstructions are scarce. The goal of this review is to assess outcomes and usage of functional reconstructions in light of multimodal treatment. Methods: A systematic search was performed in July 2018 in PubMed and Embase databases according to the PRISMA guidelines. Search terms related to ‘soft tissue sarcoma’ and ‘functional reconstruction’ were used. Case series evaluating outcomes of functional reconstructions after STS resection were included. Functional reconstructions were limited to free functioning muscle transfers, tendon reconstructions, and nerve reconstructions. Qualitative synthesis was performed on all studies. Tumor grade, multimodal treatment, reconstruction, outcomes, and complications were collected from individual patient data. Results were summarized by tumor site. Results: Fourteen studies were included after full-text screening. A total of 134 patients were described, of which the majority (74.9%) had functional reconstructions in the lower extremity. Radiotherapy and chemotherapy were administered in 60.3% and 49.4% respectively. Free functioning muscle transfers were used in 41.0% of all cases, tendon reconstructions in 58.2%, and nerve reconstructions in only 12.7%. A wide variety of outcome measures were used. Most patients regained good functionality, also after multimodal treatment. Unfavorable outcomes were often related to flap failure or allograft tendon rupture. Conclusion: Functional reconstructions in extremity STS are rarely described, but generally result in good functionality in spite of multimodal treatment. Early participation of reconstructive surgeons may help achieve ideal functional and oncological outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1762-1769
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Surgical Oncology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019


  • Functional reconstruction
  • Functionality
  • Nerve
  • Soft tissue sarcoma
  • Systematic review


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