Background: Foot and ankle sarcomas have historically been treated with amputation because of the difficulty in achieving local disease control and maintaining a functional foot. Potential opportunities for limb salvage may be further compromised by unplanned excisions.
Materials and methods: We reviewed 52 consecutive patients with soft tissue sarcomas of the foot and ankle and analyzed the impact of planned versus unplanned initial excision, limb salvage, and multimodality therapy on treatment and outcomes.
Results: Unplanned excisions had been performed in 29 (55.8%) patients. Limb salvage was performed in 38 patients, with 14 requiring free soft tissue transfers. At an average followup of 99 (range, 24 to 216) months, the 5-year overall survival estimate was 76.3%. Although not statistically significant, we noted clinically relevant potential differences in local recurrence-free, disease-free, and oncologic survival between the planned and unplanned excision groups. Seven patients (13.5%) had a local recurrence, five of these following an unplanned excision. Functional scores averaged 83.2% for all patients which were similar between planned versus unplanned and amputation versus limb salvage groups. Significantly more patients with unplanned excisions required free flaps for limb salvage (p = 0.017) and received adjuvant radiotherapy (p = 0.0004).
Conclusion: Unplanned surgery for soft tissue sarcomas of the foot and ankle often results in the need for more aggressive surgery and/or adjuvant radiotherapy and may impact oncologic outcomes, but does not necessarily portend worse functional outcomes. Multimodal therapy and judicious use of soft tissue flap reconstruction allows limb salvage in most patients with favorable outcomes.