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Out of Body Experience for Bone Cancer Treatment in Japan

Treatment of some medical conditions is not the same around the globe. In Japan, cultural and religious practices prevent the collection and banking of bone for use in surgery. Japanese surgeons have found ways around this problem.

A cancerous tumor was found in the radius bone of the forearm of a 50-year-old Japanese woman. Various treatments are available for this kind of cancer, but not all methods are available in Japan. Instead of removing the bone and replacing it with healthy bone from a bone bank, a different approach was used.

The tumor and a section of bone around it were removed. The bone was treated with radiation while outside the body, a procedure called extracorporeal irradiation. The bone was returned to the body and attached with a special plate to hold it in place. Two tendons had to be removed, but the surrounding ligaments were saved and reattached. This is not the first choice for treatment because of possible complications, but it was available, relatively easy, and saved the arm.

This technique has been used successfully in a small number of cases. Complications can include infection, death of the bone, bone resorption, or problems with the joint. In this case, there was a lack of bone union between the reimplanted bone and the remaining bone. Further surgery was needed, with more bone taken from the patient's hip. The final result was good. The arm was saved, and there was no cancer two years later.

Different approaches to cancer and surgery for bone cancer are sometimes necessary. Bone banks may not be available in cetain countries. When bone has to be removed because of a tumor, it can be treated with radiation and returned to the body. There are problems with this method, but it can be used successfully.

Tetsuji Yamamoto, MD, et al. Osteosarcoma of the Distal Radius Treated By Intraoperative Extracorporeal Irradiation. In The Journal of Hand Surgery. January 2002. Vol. 27A. No. 1. Pp. 160-164.


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