, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 401-406
Date: 20 Oct 2009

Complete Femoral Nerve Resection with Soft Tissue Sarcoma: Functional Outcomes

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Abstract

Background

The functional consequences of resecting the femoral nerve in conjunction with soft tissue sarcoma management are not well described. In comparison, sciatic nerve involvement by sarcoma was once considered an indication for amputation, but sciatic resection is now commonly performed as part of a limb-salvage approach. We compared functional outcomes following resection of either the femoral or sciatic nerve in patients with soft tissue sarcoma. We also compared both groups with patients with large thigh sarcomas without nerve involvement.

Methods

The prospectively collected database from a tertiary referral center for sarcomas was retrospectively reviewed to identify all patients with resection of the femoral nerve performed during wide excision of a soft tissue sarcoma. Patient demographics, treatment, complications, and functional outcomes in the form of the Musculoskeletal Tumor Society (MSTS) 1987 score, MSTS 1993 score, and Toronto Extremity Salvage Score (TESS) were collected. Control groups of sarcoma patients with sciatic nerve resection in the thigh as well as similarly sized tumors in the quadriceps requiring no nerve resections were also analyzed.

Results

Ten patients with femoral nerve resections were identified, all women, aged 47–78 years, with large soft tissue sarcomas of varied subtypes. All patients received adjuvant radiotherapy, most preoperatively. Six patients developed fractures during long-term follow-up, four in nonirradiated portions of the skeleton but directly from falls related to absent active knee extensors, and two at least partially attributable to sequelae of radiation. MSTS 1987 hip scores demonstrated one excellent, four good, and five fair results. MSTS 1993 hip scores averaged 71.4 ± 17.2% and TESS averaged 61.7 ± 21.8. There were no significant differences between the functional scores for patients with femoral or sciatic nerve resections (P = 1.0).

Conclusions

Femoral nerve resection appears more morbid than anticipated. The falls to which patients were prone, even years after surgery, subject them to ongoing long-term risks for fractures and other injuries. These nerve-specific functional implications should be considered when counseling patients in preparation for possible resection of the femoral nerve when it is directly involved by a soft tissue sarcoma.