Dr. James C. Wittig - Dedicated to dramatically changing lives of children and adults afflicted with sarcomas and other orthopedic tumors through innovative limb sparing surgeries, groundbreaking techniques and a specialized multidisciplinary approach to diagnosis and ultimate treatment. Dr. Wittig utilizes his education and extensive experience in the orthopedic oncology field and works diligently and cooperatively with other medical professionals for a seamless continuum of care. Dr. Wittig is committed to finding the most current, viable solutions in the area of bone and soft tissue tumors in particular sarcomas.
Bone and soft tissue tumors and sarcomas are a rare group of tumors. The treatment of these tumors is complex and requires specialized technical surgical skills as well as a multidisciplinary approach (several physicians from different subspecialties who collaborate in the treatment). Because they are rare tumors, few physicians have gained sufficient experience in treating these neoplasms in order to be proficient. Thus, most physicians who have experience in treating these tumors can be found at major medical centers and teaching hospitals.
These tumors should be treated by an othopedic oncologist who is an orthopedic surgeon that has completed specialized training in the treatment of these tumors. The orthopedic oncologist treats these tumors regularly and therefore maintains expertise in the diagnosis and surgical treatment, as well as medical (non-operative) management of these patients. The orthopedic oncologist is an expert in limb-sparing surgery. The orthopedic oncologist works closely with other physicians who form a team, such as the musculoskeletal radiologists, pathologists, medical oncologists, pediatric oncologists and radiation oncologists, to diagnose the patient and to discuss and develop treatment plans. This group of physicians (sarcoma team) meet regularly to discuss patient care and make decisions concerning treatment. They maintain open communication with each other which optimizes patients' treatment and outcome.
In my opinion, it is crucial that the surgery be performed at a medical center where these tumors are regularly treated, for instance, Hackensack University Medical Center. These surgeries are often of large magnitude. At specialized centers, the operating room staff, nurses, physical therapists, residents, social workers as well as other specialized physicians and ancillary staff are thoroughly familiar with the equipment needed for surgery, the surgical treatment and the postoperative care. They participate in the care of these patients on a regular basis. The patients' surgical and postoperative care and transition to the home environment is optimized with this approach.
Once again, because these tumors are rare, although it may be inconvenient, I believe that the postoperative follow-up scans (radiographs, MRI, CT scans) should be performed at the same hospital and interpreted by the same radiologists that have expertise in this field. They will compare previous studies with new studies. Because of their expertise, they are likely to detect any recurrence of the tumor at an early stage. They can also coordinate special studies and perform special needle biopsies if there is any question concerning recurrence of the tumor (if there is any question that the tumor may have come back).