Home Health Frankenmembers! Doctors use “spare parts” removed during operations to make reconstructions in arms and legs after cancer surgery.

Frankenmembers! Doctors use “spare parts” removed during operations to make reconstructions in arms and legs after cancer surgery.

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One patient who already benefited from surgeons using their own

Patients who lose a limb to cancer enjoy faster recovery times and fewer complications as surgeons use “spares” from their amputation.

And surgeons who published a study on the revolutionary technique say such ‘candid limbs’ could improve patients’ recovery and even help alleviate NHS surgical waiting lists.

The technique has already been used with patients who need limb removal due to soft tissue sarcomas, a family of cancers that grow in the body’s connective tissues, such as muscles, fat, blood vessels and nerves.

A sarcoma patient who had already benefited revealed how part of his forearm, complete with tattoo, had been used to reconstruct his shoulder.

David Brown, 58, from South Shields, said: “When I was 13 I had a tattoo on my left forearm.

One patient who has already benefited from surgeons using their own “spares” is David Brown, 58, from South Shields.

The only minor negative that Brown said he could find with the technique was the fact that his procedure

The only minor negative Brown said he could find with the technique was the fact that his “spare parts” procedure meant he was left with the remains of a tattoo he regretted. Here he is photographed with his wife Karen on vacation after her recovery.

‘Years later, I got fed up with it and had laser surgery, getting rid of all but a blob.

“I was glad that at least the amputation finally got rid of the tattoo, but thanks to the replacement surgery the stain is now on my shoulder.”

While surgery dedicated to removing sarcomas can be successful, sometimes doctors need to remove the limb entirely due to the extent of the disease.

These patients often need additional surgery using “donor” tissue from another part of their body to reconstruct the amputation site.

Such procedures increase the patient’s already long recovery time and increase the chances of potentially dangerous complications, which can occur during any major surgery.

But the new technique, which uses what the surgeons involved have called “spare parts” that would normally be thrown away, could help these patients recover faster.

Using a “waste, want not” philosophy, surgeons using the new technique harvest healthy, cancer-free tissue from an amputated limb and then use it to reconstruct the amputation site rather than taking it from another part of the body.

This not only reduces the patient’s recovery time and avoids the need for additional procedures, but also has benefits for the NHS.

Proponents claim that the use of “spare parts” reduces the use of scarce health services, such as operating rooms, freeing them up for other procedures.

Patients who undergo these types of operations also recover faster, meaning they can leave the hospital faster and beds are freed up for other patients.

Surgeons advocating this technique presented the results of a 10-year review of the practice at a regional meeting of the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS).

Dr Sachin Teelucksingh, who presented the evidence, said the technique had huge benefits.

“By rescuing and reusing tissues that would normally be discarded, we can improve functional outcomes and minimize donor site morbidity for patients,” he said.

Consultant plastic surgeon Mani Ragbir, president of BAPRAS and co-author of the study, said: “The use of replacement parts in sarcoma reconstruction represents a significant change in our approach to limb-sparing surgery.”

“By maximizing the use of available tissues and minimizing the need for extensive grafting, we can improve patient outcomes and optimize postoperative care.”

Brown had previously had malignant melanoma, a dangerous type of skin cancer, in 2014 before finding a lump under her arm that tests revealed was a sarcoma.

His arm was saved on that occasion, but in 2023 the cancer returned and the retired machinist faced a drastic procedure called a forequarter amputation.

This major operation involves removing the arm, shoulder blade and collarbone.

But by using the “spare parts” technique, doctors were able to reduce his recovery time and get him back to doing the things he enjoyed faster.

‘When I was first told I could lose my arm, I responded that if that happened I wouldn’t be able to live. “I couldn’t imagine an amputated life,” she said.

“However, when the tumors came back and the pain was so bad that not even morphine could help, I really wanted to keep going.

‘The operation was a success and I have never looked back or felt sorry for myself. In fact, just a month later, I was planning a six-month vacation, returning only to attend hospital appointments and do laundry.’

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Soft tissue sarcomas are rare: only 4,300 people are diagnosed each year in England, which is around 12 a day. This figure rises to 13,590 per year in the United States.

People aged 80 are more likely to be diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma, according to data from Cancer Research UK.

Less than half (45 percent) of people diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma are alive 10 years after their diagnosis.

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