- Just a few days ago, a 16-year-old came to Columbia Asia Hospital in Hebbal, Karnataka, with his clearly distressed family.
- Abdul (name changed) was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in the right femur; the only option he was left with for his survival was amputation of his entire leg as suggested by other hospitals.
- Doctors at the hospital have treated Abdul for an aggressive bone malignancy called osteosarcoma (a rare cancer in the bone).
- He was treated through a surgical process called ‘limb salvage’ wherein only the tumour is removed from the arm or leg instead of the entire limb.
Dr Ravichandra Kelkar, Consultant – Orthopaedics, Columbia Asia Hospital, Hebbal, said “The primary challenge before us was that we were unable to comprehend how much of cancer had actually proliferated in the bone on the joint areas of knee, thigh and hip.”
He added, “Initially after a scan, we had opted for chemotherapy, but it turned to be futile in shrinking the malignant cells. Finally, we had to go for a customised implant considering that the situation might always alter on the operation table based on what we might have found inside.”
What is limb salvage surgery?
Limb salvage is a kind of surgery done to remove a tumour in the arm or leg without removing the entire limb, where the bone and tissue around the tumour are also removed, and instead a prosthetic implant might be used to replace the part of the limb removed.
Limb salvage surgery is done to help save the use and appearance of the limb. It is used to treat cancers of the bone and soft tissue.
Modularity of implants, although expensive, has an edge over other regular ones in terms of the flexibility of size, explained the doctor.
“Unlike those regular knee replacements where one can shave off the edges, here one has to actually cut off the bone and the cancer together. Since nothing was left in the legs, except for blood vessels and nerves, they had to be handled tenderly,” added Dr Kelkar.
He was in the moderate stage of cancer and waiting any longer would have resulted in an extreme step where the surgery would have been impossible, as the cancer would have spread to his thigh and hip.
“Abdul is able to walk around now, and is recovering pretty fast,” stated sources from the hospital.
“This procedure is comparatively a new one with many doctors attempting it nowadays. Limb salvage needs to be carefully done and is up to the discretion of the doctor,” Dr Miten Sheth, consulting orthopaedic surgeon in Mulund, as well as an active member of Bombay Orthopaedic Society.