The extended latissimus dorsi-serratus anterior chimeric local free flap for salvage of the complicated posterolateral thoractomy incision.

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BACKGROUND: Composite chest wall reconstruction, following the assurance of chest wall stability, often requires well-vascularized soft tissue coverage with flaps to insure adequate wound healing. Unfortunately, prior surgical approaches such as the posterolateral thoractomy incision or extensive wound breakdown may impede the availability of local or regional choices. A free flap would then be a reasonable option, but in the unstable patient a new donor site is unreasonable. Instead, the otherwise inadequate muscle remnants often transected by the usual thoracotomy incision can be extended by microvascular grafts to provide the necessary reach to the defect.

METHOD: The ipsilateral cephalic latissimus dorsi and/or serratus anterior muscle remnants following their transection by a posterolateral thoractomy incision can be simultaneously raised as a chimeric flap pedicled in common by the thoracodorsal vessels. The distance the pedicle must be extended to reach the defect requiring coverage is measured, and a vascular graft from the descending branch of the lateral circumflex femoral vessels of the same length is harvested. The thoracodorsal vessels are divided, the vascular graft inserted and anastomosed end-to-end to the cut ends of the former, and then the flap can be stretched the required distance for insetting.

RESULT: A case example of use of the ipsilateral latissimus dorsi-serratus anterior muscle remnants used after extension with arterial and venous grafts to the thoracodorsal vessels as the recipient site is presented with successful salvage of a life-threatening posteriolateral thoractomy wound dehiscence.

CONCLUSION: Transection of muscles from a posterolateral thoracotomy incision does not preclude their use as flaps in extenuating circumstances. Their pedicle can be extended using vascular grafts and microvascular techniques in a sense to create a local free flap to provide another solution to a challenging problem.


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Medicine and Health Sciences




Department of Surgery

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