Total elbow arthroplasty for primary and metastatic tumor

R. Casadei, M. De Paolis, G. Drago, Carlo Romagnoli, D. Donati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Prostheses can be used in elbow reconstruction in both primary and metastatic lesions. Several authors have reported their experience with different types of implant, but not with modular prostheses. Hypothesis: Limb salvage using an elbow prosthesis is effective in obtaining good functional results and reliable local tumor control. Material and methods: Forty-seven patients treated at the Rizzoli Institute for elbow neoplasm from 1990 to 2012 were evaluated. There were 30 primary tumors (64%), 24 bone tumors and 6 soft tissue sarcomas, and 17 bone metastases. Elbow reconstruction used a modular prosthesis in 25 patients and a standard prosthesis in 22. Reconstruction was primary in 30 patients and secondary in 17. Results: At last control, 15 (32%) were dead of disease (DOD) at a mean follow-up of 35 months, 12 (25%) were alive with disease (AWD) at a mean follow-up of 29 months, 19 (40%) showed no evidence of disease (NED) at a mean follow-up of 80 months. Early complications were related to unexpected neurological damage, observed in 12 patients (25%): in 5 cases the deficit resolved in a mean 6 months; in the others, no or only partial recovery was observed. Two implants (4%) developed infection: 1 was treated with antibiotic therapy, and the other required implant revision. One implant showing cement extrusion was revised. In 3 patients (6%) radiography showed a radiolucent halo around the stem (2 humeral, 1 ulnar); no measures were taken, as the patients were completely asymptomatic at every follow-up. In 3 patients (6%) partial resorption of the allograft was observed on X-ray, but remained unchanged at last follow-up, without pain or functional impairment. Seven local recurrences (15%) were observed, at a mean of 16 months after surgery; 5 were treated by resection and/or radiotherapy, and 2 by amputation. Mean functional scores on MEPS and MSTS were respectively 84% and 22/30 (73%). Conclusions: Elbow prostheses provided better function in primary than in metastatic tumor. Elbow prosthesis reconstruction after tumor resection is a viable option both for primary and secondary bone neoplasms. Type of study: Therapeutic. Level of evidence: IV, retrospective study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)459-465
Number of pages7
JournalOrthopaedics and Traumatology: Surgery and Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2016


  • Elbow
  • Limb-salvage
  • Metastases
  • Modular prosthesis
  • Prosthesis
  • Tumors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Surgery


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