Background: Isolated limb infusion (ILI) is a minimally invasive technique of delivering regional chemotherapy in patients with advanced melanoma or soft tissue sarcoma of the limb. Reports from Australia of efficacy similar to that of isolated limb perfusion prompted us to conduct a phase II trial to evaluate the efficacy and safety of ILI.
Methods: Eligible patients had American Joint Committee on Cancer stage IIIB or IIIC melanoma or unresectable soft tissue sarcoma of the limb. Angiographic catheters were positioned just above the knee or elbow of the extremity. General anesthesia was performed, a proximal tourniquet was inflated, and a normothermic, low-flow, hypoxic infusion of melphalan and dactinomycin was circulated through the involved limb for 20 minutes. The tumor response was assessed by using standard criteria at 3 months. Morbidity was determined in the hospital and at 2, 6, and 12 weeks.
Results: Twenty-five patients were accrued to the trial, and 32 ILIs were performed (8 patients had 2 ILIs); 1 patient was not treated. Of the 22 assessable patients, 11 (50%) had a significant response at 3 months: 23% of patients had a complete response, and 27% of patients had a partial response. The median duration of complete response was 1 year (range, 6-32 months). Morbidity was acceptable. Peak morbidity occurred at 2 weeks and was considered moderate in most patients. Limb edema and erythema were common. No patient developed compartment syndrome or required amputation.
Conclusions: ILI is well tolerated. Half of the patients experienced a complete or partial response.