Treatment for long bone metastases based on a systematic literature review

Costantino Errani, Andreas F. Mavrogenis, Luca Cevolani, Silvia Spinelli, Andrea Piccioli, Giulio Maccauro, Nicola Baldini, Davide Donati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To provide treatment guidelines for patients with long bone metastatic disease based on a systematic review of the literature and to propose an algorithm to guide orthopedic surgeons in decision-making for these patients. Materials and methods: We performed a computerized literature search in MEDLINE, EMBASE and Scopus for studies on patients with long bone metastases. We used the key words “long bones”, “metastasis” and “treatment” for published studies that evaluated any treatment for long bone metastases. The articles found were then studied to determine the accuracy of surgical treatments for long bone metastases in every anatomic location, regardless of cancer type, stage and grade of the oncologic disease. Guidelines inferred from this literature review were collected, and an algorithm was proposed. Results: There was no clear evidence to support excision of a long bone metastatic lesion at the same surgical setting with internal fixation or prosthetic reconstruction. However, en bloc resection of an isolated bone metastasis may have a beneficial effect on survival. The life expectancy of the patients should be considered for any surgical treatment. Internal fixation preferably with reconstruction nails is indicated for meta-diaphyseal lesions; their rate of mechanical failure and complications ranges from 2 to 22 %. Prosthetic reconstruction is indicated for extensive lytic lesions or pathologic fractures in a meta-epiphyseal locations; their rate of mechanical failure and complications ranges from 3.7 to 35 %. Most of the internal fixation-related complications occur more than 1 year after treatment, in contrast to prosthetic reconstruction-related complications that may occur earlier. Conclusions: Intramedullary nail fixation or prosthetic reconstruction should be chosen on the basis of the location of the lesion, the extent of bone destruction and the stability of the construct to outlast the expected life of the patient. Implant-related complication is similar but may occur earlier with prosthetic reconstructions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Traumatology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Sep 20 2016


  • Long bones
  • Metastatic bone disease
  • Surgical treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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