Between 1983 and 1993, 102 patients with giant cell tumor of bone were treated at three institutions. Sixteen patients (15.9%) presented with already having had local recurrence. All patients were treated with thorough curettage of the tumor, burr drilling of the tumor inner walls, and cryotherapy by direct pour technique using liquid nitrogen. The average followup was 6.5 years (range, 4-15 years). The rate of local recurrence in the 86 patients treated primarily with cryosurgery was 2.3% (two patients), and the overall recurrence rate was 7.9% (eight patients). Six of these patients were cured by cryosurgery and two underwent resection. Overall, 100 of 102 patients were cured with cryosurgery. Complications associated with cryosurgery included six (5.9%) pathologic fractures, three (2.9%) cases of partial skin necrosis, and two (1.9%) significant degenerative changes. Overall function was good to excellent in 94 patients (92.2%), moderate in seven patients (6.9%), and poor in one patient (0.9%). Cryosurgery has the advantages of joint preservation, excellent functional outcome, and low recurrence rate when compared with other joint preservation procedures. For these reasons, it is recommended as an adjuvant to curettage for most giant cell tumors of bone.

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