Musculoskeletal Oncology Program
Children and adults with any type of benign or cancerous bone or soft tissue mass have access to an ultra-specialized service: the Musculoskeletal Oncology Program at Nationwide Children’s. With a staff devoted exclusively to the removal of these growths — including a special focus on Ewing sarcoma and osteosarcoma — our offerings lead the nation in expertise, volume and variety.
Our Musculoskeletal Oncology Program focuses on innovative limb salvage strategies and ways to protect quality of life both now and in the future for our patients. We are supported by a robust range of related programs at Nationwide Children’s to help maximize health outcomes, from oncology and child life to adaptive therapies and rehabilitation resources.
A National Leader in Limb Salvage
Avoiding amputation can help many patients keep their limb function and appearance while still safely and effectively removing the tumor. The number of operations we do for Ewing sarcoma and osteosarcoma alone makes our program one of the largest limb salvage centers in the nation.
The Musculoskeletal Oncology Program at Nationwide Children’s also specializes in extreme limb salvage techniques. These techniques help us save limbs that may otherwise have required amputation, or that may have had a failed salvage operation in the past.
In addition, we are one of the few centers to offer non-invasive, expandable prosthetics. These devices can expand or grow as your child grows to keep up with the rest of their limb. The lengthening is performed in the office without an operation.
Rotationplasty and Arthroplasty
We perform more rotationplasty procedures than almost any other hospital. This unique operation converts what would be an above-knee amputation to the functional outcome of a below-knee amputation. This procedure can also offer activity options not available with most prosthetic knees or above-knee amputations, such as the ability to play sports that involve heavy jumping, rotating, running or pivoting.
When joint replacement is needed, we also offer comprehensive arthroplasty care. Unlike centers that perform the procedure on adults only, we have significant experience reconstructing joints in children and young adults, preserving or restoring their range of motion.
Targeted Muscle Reinnervation (TMR) for Children
As the world’s first center performing targeted muscle reinnervation (TMR) in children, we are leading the way toward a future with less post-amputation pain and the potential for bio-prosthetics.
People with amputated limbs often experience pain — sometimes called phantom limb pain — where the nerves were cut during the amputation. TMR attaches those cut nerves into the muscle around the amputation. The procedure can eliminate or prevent phantom nerve pain. It also gives children the option to eventually make use of a bio-prosthetic: a device that connects the nerves to the prosthetic so that people can control it using their own thoughts and nerve signals, much like a normal limb.
Our team pioneered TMR in children with great success after performing dozens of successful TMR procedures in adults, and now teaches the approach to surgeons from around the world.
A Full Range of Support Resources
Perhaps the best aspect of bone and soft tissue operations at Nationwide Children’s is the variety of highly specialized resources available to support our patients before, during and after their musculoskeletal oncology care.
Patients requiring visits from specialists in multiple disciplines, such as medical or radiation oncology, can have all of their appointments in one day. The physicians collaborate to make sure each patient’s care is informed, comprehensive and customized. In addition, a sarcoma-focused physician panel (tumor board) meets to discuss every single patient’s tumor and the best individualized course of treatment.
Nationwide Children offers a full range of services to support all patients with benign or malignant bone or soft tissue tumors, including:
- Comprehensive Sarcoma Program
- Surgical Oncology
- The Adaptive Sports Medicine Program
- The Limb Deficiency Clinic
- The Center for Limb Lengthening and Reconstruction
- Child Life Specialists
- Physical Therapy
- Occupational Therapy
- Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
- Comprehensive Pain Services
Meet the Director
Thomas Scharschmidt, MD, is director of the Musculoskeletal Oncology Program at Nationwide Children’s. His clinical interests focus on orthopedic surgery, bone cancer, soft tissue sarcomas, spine surgery and limb salvage. Dr. Scharschmidt’s research interests include targeted muscle reinnervation, quality of life in orthopedic surgery patients and improving outcomes after surgery for bone cancer.
Dr. Scharschmidt serves as assistant professor of orthopedics at The Ohio State University, where he runs a similar bone tumor clinic for adults. He is an active member in several professional societies, including the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group, International Society of Limb Salvage, and Musculoskeletal Tumor Society. Dr. Scharschmidt has more than 65 publications and trains physicians from around the world on bone tumor removal, limb salvage techniques and targeted muscle reinnervation. He received his medical degree from Northeastern Ohio University College of Medicine.