Radical forequarter amputation with hemithoracectomy and free extended forearm flap: technical and physiologic considerations.

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BACKGROUND: A radical forequarter amputation with partial chest wall resection (one to four ribs) has been reported for benign and malignant lesions involving the shoulder and chest wall region. Concerns about reconstruction and postoperative pulmonary function have previously limited more extensive chest wall resections. The current report describes the first case in which a complete unilateral anterior and posterior chest wall resection and pneumonectomy (hemithoracectomy) accompany a forequarter amputation. A novel reconstructive technique used the full circumference of the forearm tissue with an intact ulna as a free osseomyocutaneous flap.

METHODS: In this case, a 21-year-old patient presented with an extensive recurrent desmoid tumor that involved the shoulder, brachial plexus, subclavian vein, and chest wall from the lateral sternal border to the midportion of the scapula and down to the eighth rib. The operative technique involved removal of the entire right hemithorax from the midline sternum to the transverse process posteriorly, down to the ninth rib inferiorly. Due to the absence of a rigid hemithorax, the uninvolved ipsilateral lung was also removed. The forearm flap was prepared before final separation of the specimen and division of the subclavian vessels.

RESULTS: Postoperatively, the patient maintained excellent oxygenation without atelectasis or fever and was extubated on the 15th postoperative day. As expected after pneumonectomy, significant decreases from preoperative to immediate postoperative values were noted for the vital capacity (VC) (from 4.87 L to 1.29 L), forced 1-s expiratory volume (FEV1) (from 3.77 L to 1.02 L), and inspiratory capacity (IC) (3.33 l to 0.99 l). Rehabilitation included a specially designed external prosthesis to provide cosmesis and prevent scoliosis. By the 15th postoperative week the patient had returned to normal social and physical activities, with a gradual improvement in all respiratory parameters: VC 1.52 L, FEV1 1.29 L, IC 1.04 L. There has been no evidence of tumor recurrence at 1 year.

CONCLUSIONS: This report provides evidence that a complete hemithoracectomy, pneumonectomy, and forequarter amputation can be safely performed for selective tumors involving the shoulder region with extensive chest wall invasion. Reconstruction may be achieved with an extended forearm osseomyocutaneous free flap with an excellent functional outcome.





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Medicine and Health Sciences




Department of Surgery

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