Complications, mobility, and quality of life in ankle sarcoma patients

Bone Joint J. 2021 Mar;103-B(3):553-561. doi: 10.1302/0301-620X.103B3.BJJ-2020-1308.R1.


Aims: The aims of the study were to analyze differences in surgical and oncological outcomes, as well as quality of life (QoL) and function in patients with ankle sarcomas undergoing three forms of surgical treatment, minor or major limb salvage surgery (LSS), or amputation.

Methods: A total of 69 patients with ankle sarcomas, treated between 1981 and 2017 at two tumour centres, were retrospectively reviewed (mean age at surgery: 46.3 years (SD 22.0); 31 females (45%)). Among these 69 patients 25 were analyzed prospectively (mean age at latest follow-up: 61.2 years (SD 20.7); 11 females (44%)), and assessed for mobility using the Prosthetic Limb Users Survey of Mobility (PLUS-M; for amputees only), the Toronto Extremity Salvage Score (TESS), and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Activity Score. Individual QoL was evaluated in these 25 patients using the five-level EuroQol five-dimension (EQ-5D-5L) and Fragebogen zur Lebenszufriedenheit/Questions on Life Satisfaction (FLZ).

Results: Of the total number of patients in the study, 22 (32%) underwent minor LSS and 22 (32%) underwent major LSS; 25 underwent primary amputation (36%). Complications developed in 26 (38%) patients, and were more common in those with major or minor LSS in comparison to amputation (59% vs 36% vs 20%; p = 0.022). A time-dependent trend towards higher complication risk following any LSS was present (relative risk: 0.204; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.026 to 1.614; p = 0.095). In the prospective cohort, mean TESS was higher following minor LSS in comparison to amputation (91.0 vs 67.3; p = 0.006), while there was no statistically significant difference between major LSS and amputation (81.6 vs 67.3; p = 0.099). There was no difference in mean UCLA (p = 0.334) between the three groups (p = 0.334). None of the items in FLZ or EQ-5D-5L were different between the three groups (all p > 0.05), except for FLZ item "self-relation", being lower in amputees.

Conclusion: Complications are common following LSS for ankle sarcomas. QoL is comparable between patients with LSS or amputation, despite better mobility scores for patients following minor LSS. We conclude that these results allow a decision for amputation to be made more easily in patients particularly where the principles of oncological surgery would otherwise be at risk. Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2021;103-B(3):553-561.

Keywords: Amputation; Foot and ankle; Limb salvage; Quality of life; Sarcoma.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Amputation, Surgical*
  • Ankle*
  • Austria / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Limb Salvage / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Quality of Life*
  • Sarcoma / pathology
  • Sarcoma / surgery*
  • Soft Tissue Neoplasms / pathology
  • Soft Tissue Neoplasms / surgery*