Arterialized venous free flaps for soft-tissue reconstruction of digits: a 40-case series
De Lorenzi, Francesca × van der Hulst, René R W J den Dunnen, W F A Vranckx, Jan Vandenhof, B Francois, C Boeckx, Willy #
Journal of reconstructive microsurgery vol:18 issue:7 pages:569-74; discussion 575-7
When there is not sufficient local tissue available for reconstruction of one or multiple digital defects, distant flap reconstructions are required. Available thin flaps with defined arterial inflow and venous outflow are limited and require the sacrifice of an arterial pedicle. In addition, a functional limitation can occur at the donor site. During the last decades, experimental and clinical attempts have been made in using venous flaps, based just on the venous network for in- and outflow. A 40-case series of arterialized venous free flaps in soft-tissue reconstruction of the digits and hand is presented. Neovessel formation induced by an intact venous plexus within the flap proved clinically to be the survival mechanism. Postoperative congestion was present in all flaps and subsided within 14 days; 92 percent of all flaps eventually survived. In 57.5 percent of cases, total flap survival was observed; in 17.5 percent of flaps, a superficial epidermolysis occurred, not requiring further surgery; in 17.5 percent of flaps, a full-thickness skin necrosis developed, requiring grafting (minor complication); in 7.5 percent of reconstructions, total flap necrosis was observed. Thus, in the authors' experience, when conventional local flaps are not available, arterialized venous free flaps proved to be a successful solution for soft-tissue reconstruction in digits and hands. The authors present the main indications and advantages of arterialized venous free flaps, emphasizing the essential technical steps and the most frequent pitfalls in treatment.