The effect of preoperative radiotherapy and reconstructive surgery on wound complications after resection of extremity soft-tissue sarcomas

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Surgery

Publication Date


Document Type



Adolescent; Adult; Aged; Aged, 80 and over; Female; Follow-Up Studies; Humans; Lower Extremity; Male; Medical Records; Middle Aged; Neoplasm Staging; Preoperative Care; Prospective Studies; *Reconstructive Surgical Procedures; Sarcoma; Surgical Wound Infection; Survival Rate; Treatment Outcome; Wound Healing




BACKGROUND: Major wound complications (MWCs) are frequent after preoperative radiotherapy (RT) for extremity soft-tissue sarcoma (STS). We examined the rate of MWCs at a single institution with readily available reconstructive surgery.

METHODS: The medical records of consecutively treated extremity STS patients treated with preoperative external-beam RT and surgical resection from June 1996 through February 2003 were reviewed. Patients underwent RT (median 50 Gy), followed by resection 4-8 weeks later. Patients believed to be at higher risk for MWC underwent wound closure by the reconstructive surgery service (RSS). MWCs included secondary operation, invasive procedure, hospital readmission, or persistent deep packing or dressing changes.

RESULTS: A total of 173 patients underwent preoperative RT. Median age was 54 years; 51% were female; 80% had lower extremity STS. Wound closure was performed by the primary surgeon in 91 cases (53%). The RSS performed wound closure in the remaining 82 patients (47%). One or more MWCs occurred in 55 patients (32%). Wound complications were more likely in patients with lower extremity (49/138, 36%) than upper extremity (6/35, 17%) STS (P = 0.03). Among patients with lower-risk wounds closed by the primary surgical team, 29 (32%) experienced MWC, whereas in the higher-risk patients closed by the RSS, MWC occurred in 26 (32%).

CONCLUSIONS: MWCs are frequent after preoperative RT and occur more commonly in patients with lower extremity tumors. The MWC rate observed in a single-institution setting was comparable to that observed in the preoperative therapy arm of a multicenter Canadian trial. Patients believed to be at higher risk for MWCs undergoing RSS closure have MWC rates comparable to those with lower-risk wounds closed by the primary team.

DOI of Published Version



Ann Surg Oncol. 2006 Sep;13(9):1209-15. Epub 2006 Sep 3. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Annals of surgical oncology


At the time of publication, Jennifer Tseng was not yet affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

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