Endoprosthetic Reconstruction of the Upper Extremity in Oncologic Surgery

J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2020 Apr 15;28(8):e319-e327. doi: 10.5435/JAAOS-D-19-00219.


In 1943, Austin Moore successfully reconstructed a proximal femur using a Vitallium endoprosthesis. This marked the first successful alternative to amputation in oncologic surgery. However, it was not until the introduction of high-resolution axial imaging and improved chemotherapeutics that the feasibility of limb salvage began to improve. Today, limb salvage surgery can be used to treat most oncologic conditions of the extremities, the most popular reconstruction option being endoprostheses. Megaprostheses use has expanded to nononcologic indications with severe bone loss, including infections, revision arthroplasty, and severe periarticular trauma and its sequelae. The proximal humerus and scapula are challenging for reconstruction, given the complex anatomy of the brachial plexus, the accompanying vascular structures, and the dynamic stabilizers of the relatively nonstable glenohumeral joint. The midhumerus is difficult because of the close location of the radial nerve, whereas the distal humerus is challenging because of the proximity of the brachial artery and its bifurcation, radial, ulnar, and median nerves, and lack of soft-tissue coverage. Despite these challenges, this review demonstrates that many series show excellent mid- to long-term results for pain relief and function restoration after megaprosthetic reconstruction of the scapula and humerus after bone resections for oncologic and nononcologic reasons.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bone Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Bone Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Limb Salvage / methods*
  • Orthopedic Procedures / methods*
  • Reconstructive Surgical Procedures / methods*
  • Sarcoma / drug therapy
  • Sarcoma / surgery*
  • Upper Extremity / surgery*