Non-invasive massive growing prostheses reduce infection in paediatric cancer patients

Melanie Jean Coathup, Samee Ahmad, Julian F Maempel, Timothy W. R. Briggs, William J. Aston, John A. Skinner, Gordon W. Blunn

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Purpose: In this study, we asked the question of whether non-invasive (NI) extendible bone tumour implants are as reliable and reduce infection when compared with patients who received a minimally invasive (MI) extendible implant.

Methods: Forty-two NI extendible bone tumour implants were investigated at a mean follow-up of 22 months (range, 1–87 months) and 63 MI implants at a mean follow-up of 49 months (range, 1–156 months).

Results: Kaplan–Meier analysis showed that the probability of MI implant survival was 58.8% compared with 78.6% in NI patients. No significant difference between these two patient groups was found. Infection was the main reason for failure in the MI implant group where nine (35%) implants were revised. However, only one (11%) NI implant was revised for infection (p = 0.042). None of the NI implants failed due to aseptic loosening; however, six (23%) MI implants were revised for aseptic loosening of the intramedullary stem. Four (15%) of the failed MI implants were revised due to full extension and five (56%) of failed NI implants were replaced as the implant had been fully extended where the patient still required growth.

Conclusion: Where possible, an NI massive prosthesis should be used in this patient group. Our results suggest that MI prostheses should be infrequently used due to the high incidence of infection. Lengthening of NI prostheses is painless, can be carried out in the clinic and is more cost-effective. However, further work is required to increase the amount of growth potential available in these implants.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Surgery
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2019


  • aseptic loosening
  • bone cancer
  • growing implants
  • infection
  • massive endoprostheses


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