Caitlynne had a bone tumor known as an osteosarcoma growing just above her knee, the most common location for this aggressive tumor. The eighth most common cancer in children, osteosarcoma is still a rarity, affecting only about 600 children per year in the United States.
Fortunately, however, Caitlynne's prognosis was very positive. With intensive treatment, including chemotherapy and surgery, she would most likely be cured and go on to live a normal life.
Boston Children's Hospital orthopedic surgeon Mark Gebhardt, MD, explained the options to the family: Caitlynne could either have an allograft, an implant made of metal or donated bone, or a type of partial amputation known as a rotationplasty.
A rotationplasty is a surgical procedure that is both elegantly simple and medically unusual. "You're basically amputating the part with the tumor except for the nerves," explains Gebhardt, "then you take the upper end of the shinbone and you hook it up to the thighbone. In the process of doing that you rotate it 180 degrees so the ankle becomes adjacent to the opposite knee." The result is a new "knee" formed by the rotated ankle and foot.