What is the role of surgery in the treatment of multiple myeloma (MM)?

Updated: May 11, 2021
  • Author: Dhaval Shah, MD; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Surgical therapy for MM is limited to adjunctive therapy. It consists of prophylactic fixation of pending fractures, decompression of the spinal cord when indicated, and treatment of pathologic fractures.

Prophylactic treatment of impending fractures and the treatment of pathologic fractures may involve bracing. In general, bracing is not effective for the long bones, though it may be effective for treating spinal involvement without neurologic compromise.

Intramedullary fixation is the procedure of choice when surgery is necessary. If the metaphysis or joint surface is involved, resection of the diseased bone and reconstruction with a total joint or, more typically, a hemiarthroplasty is indicated. Modular implants may be required. Severe destruction of the diaphysis may require reconstruction with combinations of methylmethacrylate, intramedullary nails, or resection and prosthetic replacement.

Although surgical decompression of the spinal cord is sometimes appropriate, posterior laminectomy in this population has been reported to have a mortality rate of 6-10% and to not be superior to radiation. This surgical approach is probably best reserved for cases of MM in which radiation fails. Newer surgical interventions, such as kyphoplasty, in which cement is injected into compressed vertebrae, have been shown to improve function with few complications, although the studies reported have been small.

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