Management of tenosynovial giant cell tumour of the foot and ankle

Bone Joint J. 2021 Apr;103-B(4):788-794. doi: 10.1302/0301-620X.103B4.BJJ-2020-1582.R1.


Aims: Tenosynovial giant cell tumour (TGCT) is one of the most common soft-tissue tumours of the foot and ankle and can behave in a locally aggressive manner. Tumour control can be difficult, despite the various methods of treatment available. Since treatment guidelines are lacking, the aim of this study was to review the multidisciplinary management by presenting the largest series of TGCT of the foot and ankle to date from two specialized sarcoma centres.

Methods: The Oxford Tumour Registry and the Leiden University Medical Centre Sarcoma Registry were retrospectively reviewed for patients with histologically proven foot and ankle TGCT diagnosed between January 2002 and August 2019.

Results: A total of 84 patients were included. There were 39 men and 45 women with a mean age at primary treatment of 38.3 years (9 to 72). The median follow-up was 46.5 months (interquartile range (IQR) 21.3 to 82.3). Localized-type TGCT (n = 15) predominantly affected forefoot, whereas diffuse-type TGCT (Dt-TGCT) (n = 9) tended to panarticular involvement. TGCT was not included in the radiological differential diagnosis in 20% (n = 15/75). Most patients had open rather than arthroscopic surgery (76 vs 17). The highest recurrence rates were seen with Dt-TGCT (61%; n = 23/38), panarticular involvement (83%; n = 5/8), and after arthroscopy (47%; n = 8/17). Three (4%) fusions were carried out for osteochondral destruction by Dt-TGCT. There were 14 (16%) patients with Dt-TGCT who underwent systemic treatment, mostly in refractory cases (79%; n = 11). TGCT initially decreased or stabilized in 12 patients (86%), but progressed in five (36%) during follow-up; all five underwent subsequent surgery. Side effects were reported in 12 patients (86%).

Conclusion: We recommend open surgical excision as the primary treatment for TGCT of the foot and ankle, particularly in patients with Dt-TGCT with extra-articular involvement. Severe osteochondral destruction may justify salvage procedures, although these are not often undertaken. Systemic treatment is indicated for unresectable or refractory cases. However, side effects are commonly experienced, and relapses may occur once treatment has ceased. Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2021;103-B(4):788-794.

Keywords: Foot and ankle; Multidisciplinary treatment; Oncology; Pigmented villonodular synovitis; Surgery; Systemic treatment; Tenosynovial giant cell tumours.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Ankle*
  • Arthroscopy
  • Child
  • Female
  • Foot*
  • Giant Cell Tumor of Tendon Sheath / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / therapy
  • Soft Tissue Neoplasms / therapy*