Rotationplasty is a surgical option for young children who have been diagnosed with a variety of malignant or benign conditions. Rotationplasty is most commonly used as a treatment option for osteosarcoma or Ewing’s sarcoma in the distal femur or proximal tibia. This procedure can also be used in the proximal femur for rotationplasty in the hip, but this is much less common than the knee.
In rotationplasty, the bone cancer and surrounding tissues are removed and the remaining lower section of the leg is rotated before reattaching to the healthy upper section. Rotationplasty is typically recommended when a portion of the limb is injured or diseased.
During the leg rotationplasty procedure, the ankle becomes the knee joint. A prosthesis is built that allows the foot and ankle to function as the patient’s knee. This prosthesis is different than a typical prosthetic device since it requires consideration of an anatomical ankle to act as the knee. The ankle (new knee) requires structural support so that the patient does not overextend the ankle. Prosthetic fit and function are very critical and should only be performed by a skilled prosthetist.
Patients who undergo rotationplasty as a surgical option for treatment require intensive physical therapy to gain motion and strength in the reconstructed limb. A physical therapist and prosthetist who are skilled in this specific design/procedure should work very closely with the patient’s orthopedic surgeon to guide the exercise program and prosthetic fitting.
Other surgical options for young patients with sarcomas such as osteosarcoma or Ewing’s sarcoma are:
- Limb Sparing Surgery
- Complete amputation
When making the decision whether to receive rotationplasty versus the other treatment options, parents should take into consideration the age of the child, the location and size of the cancer, medical diagnosis and prognosis as well as the “functional outcomes” that the parents/child/physician agree on.
Rotationplasty is a good option for young patients who have not finished growing and have a malignant bone tumor around the knee joint. Because their legs have not grown completely, the leg length difference will not be as great. Also, the young patient will be able to run and jump and keep up with their friends and classmates. The patient can participate in most sports even those with jumping and high impact. Because the ankle joint is a natural joint functioning as the “new knee,” the patient has greater control of the “knee” with sensation of how it is moving as well as the position of the knee as the patient walks and runs.
At Emory Orthopaedics & Spine, we work closely with the resources at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, one of the largest childhood cancer programs in the country. Our continuum of care features pediatric experts in orthopedic surgery, radiation oncology, social work, case management, physical therapy and prosthetics.
- What is an Osteosarcoma, and What’s the Best Way to Treat It?
- Emory Orthopedic Oncology Program
- Winship Cancer Institute Sarcoma Treatment Information
- Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta – Limb Deficiency Information
- Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta – Cancer & Blood Disorders Information
About the Experts
About Dr. Monson
David K. Monson, MD, assistant professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Chief of Orthopaedic Surgery at Emory University Hospital Midtown, started practicing at Emory in 1988. Dr. Monson is an expert in the treatment of rare tumors (sarcomas of the bone and soft tissue). Dr. Monson’s specialties are Orthopaedic Surgery (Board certified since 1990) and Orthopaedic Oncology. His areas of clinical interest are orthopaedic tumors, sarcoma, and limb reconstruction.
About Dr. Oskouei
Shervin V. Oskouei, MD, assistant professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Emory University, is an expert in the treatment of musculoskeletal (extremity) tumors, total hip and total knee replacements and revisions. Dr. Oskouei started practicing at Emory in 2004. Dr. Oskouei is board-certified and fellowship trained in orthopaedic surgery. Combining his experience and interests with the state-of-the-art facilities of Emory University and the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University allows Dr. Oskouei to treat patients with the latest modalities using a multi-disciplinary approach.
About Emory Orthopaedic Oncology
Dr. Monson and Dr. Oskouei lead the Emory Musculoskeletal Oncology and Limb Reconstruction program at Emory. The world – class program treats a variety of conditions, including benign and malignant tumors of the extremities and spine, as well as metastatic disease. Together, they offer a combined 34 years of clinical practice experience. They care for both pediatric and adult aged patients.
Both of these physicians belong to the Musculoskeletal Tumor Society which requires fellowship training in orthopaedic oncology. Physicians belonging to this group must also have a primary clinical focus in orthopaedic oncology. This is important for patients because it means the specialist you are seeing has had extra training in this area and is viewed by peers as an expert in the care of orthopaedic oncology. Patients should take the time to research physicians in their area to determine if they are seeing an orthopaedic oncology specialist that belongs to this organization.