Allograft reconstruction of the humerus: Complications and revision surgery

J Surg Oncol. 2019 Mar;119(3):329-335. doi: 10.1002/jso.25309. Epub 2018 Dec 5.


Background and objectives: Allograft reconstruction of the humerus after resection is preferred by many because of bone stock restoration and biologic attachment of ligaments and muscles to the allograft, theoretically obtaining superior stability and functionality. Our aim was to assess the prevalence of complications and the incidence and etiology for revision surgery in humeral allograft reconstructions.

Methods: We included patients 18 years and older who underwent wide resection and allograft reconstruction of the humerus for primary and metastatic lesions at our institution between 1990 and 2013. Our primary outcome measures were complications and revision surgery. We used competing risk regression to assess allograft survival.

Results: Of the 84 patients we included, 47 patients (51%) underwent allograft reconstructions of the proximal humerus, 30 (36%) intercalary, and seven (8%) of the distal humerus. Fifty-one patients (61%) had at least one complication after surgery. Eighteen patients (21%) underwent revision surgery. The 5-year allograft survival was 71%.

Conclusion: Although allograft reconstructions of the humerus are a valuable option in the orthopedic oncologist's armamentarium, surgeons should mind the accompanying complication rates. Allograft fractures seem to be the main issue for proximal and distal allografts, often leading to revision surgery. Intercalary allografts are mostly troubled by nonunions.

Keywords: adverse events; fracture; nonunion; surgery.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Allografts
  • Bone Neoplasms / pathology
  • Bone Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Graft Survival
  • Humans
  • Humerus / pathology
  • Humerus / surgery*
  • Lymphoma / pathology
  • Lymphoma / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications / mortality*
  • Prognosis
  • Reconstructive Surgical Procedures / adverse effects*
  • Reoperation / mortality*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sarcoma / pathology
  • Sarcoma / surgery*
  • Survival Rate