Background: Isolated limb infusion (ILI) is a minimally invasive technique for delivering regional chemotherapy in patients with advanced and metastatic melanoma confined to a limb. It is essentially a low-flow isolated limb perfusion (ILP) performed via percutaneous catheters without oxygenation.
Methods: From our prospective database 185 patients with advanced metastatic melanoma of the limb treated with a single ILI between 1993 and 2007 were identified. In all patients a cytotoxic drug combination of melphalan and actinomycin-D was used. Drug circulation time was 20-30 min under mild hyperthermic conditions (38-39 degrees C).
Results: The majority of patients (62%) were female. Their average age was 74 years (range 29-93 years). Most patients had MD Anderson stage III disease (134/185). The overall response rate was 84% [complete response (CR) rate 38%, partial response rate 46%]. Median response duration was 13 months (22 months for patients with CR; P = 0.01). Median follow-up was 20 months and median survival was 38 months. In those patients with a CR, the median survival was 53 months (P = 0.005). CR rate and survival time decreased with increasing stage of disease. On multivariate analysis significant factors for a favorable outcome were achievement of CR, stage of disease, thickness of primary melanoma, the CO(2 )level in the isolated circuit, and a Wieberdink limb toxicity score of III (considerable erythema and edema).
Conclusion: The response rates and duration of response after ILI are comparable to those achieved by conventional ILP. ILI is a minimally invasive alternative to the much more complex and morbid conventional ILP technique for patients with advanced metastatic melanoma confined to a limb.