Bone exposure in the leg: Is a free muscle flap mandatory?
Verhelle, Nicolas × Vranckx, Jan Van den Hof, Bert Heymans, Olivier #
Lippincott williams & wilkins
Plastic and reconstructive surgery vol:116 issue:1 pages:170-177
BACKGROUND: In lower leg defects with bone, hardware, or articular exposure, a free tissue transfer is often the only valuable option. However, in well-selected clinical cases, pedicled flaps are still indicated because they provide an alternative for the more demanding and risky microsurgical procedure. The medial adipose-fascial flap of the leg represents an ideal local regional fascial flap. METHODS: Twenty-two medial adipose-fascial flaps (performed in 21 patients) were reviewed retrospectively and compared with a series of 22 free gracilis flaps (22 patients) selected out of 150 muscular free flaps for lower leg reconstruction. All patients with defects larger than 40 cm, peripheral vascular disease, deep defects, and osteomyelitis were excluded in order to obtain the same surgical indications in which the local medial adipose-fascial flap could have been used. RESULTS: The overall surgical results were comparable, but more medical complications, a longer operative time, and a longer hospital stay were seen in the free muscle group. Moreover, patients reconstructed with a medial adipose-fascial flap appeared to be more satisfied with the aesthetic result of their reconstruction. CONCLUSIONS: Muscle coverage is not mandatory to cover bone in the lower leg. The medial adipose-fascial flap can provide a good alternative for free flap coverage. This flap seems to have fewer medical complications, requires a shorter operative time and hospital stay, and can provide better aesthetic results than a free muscle flap.