Clinical scrutiny of the de facto superiority of proximally versus distally based fasciocutaneous flaps.
Just as the dogma that skin flap survival depends on rigid length-to-width ratios has been refuted as a consequence of advances in understanding the anatomical basis of the cutaneous circulation, the generalization that distally based flaps are inherently inferior to proximally based flaps also deserves to be challenged. All else being equal, the truly critical factor for flap viability in either case is the nature of their intrinsic blood supply rather than any arbitrary configuration or orientation. Previous laboratory evidence has proved this fact and is now further validated by a clinical experience with 194 local fascia flaps in 174 patients. There was a 22.2 percent overall incidence of complications, but no statistically significant difference in this rate was observed whether the flap was distally based (18.8 percent of 16 flaps) or proximally based (23.5 percent of 162 flaps) (p = 0.669). Major complications, usually a failure of the intended coverage, actually were more common for proximally based flaps (12.9 percent) than those distally based (6.3 percent), although not statistically different (p = 0.436). Bipedicled fasciocutaneous flaps, which should have had augmented perfusion from their dual sources of inflow, sustained complications in 12.5 percent of 16 flaps. Although none was classified as a major problem, again no difference was apparent when compared with proximally based (Pprox = 0.316) or distally based (pdis = 0.626) flaps. Some caution is prudent in interpreting these retrospective data, not because of an admitted bias for more frequent selection of proximally based flaps, but because the choice for any of these local fasciocutaneous flap always followed a careful assessment of the status of the fascial plexus adjacent to any defect. Audible or color Doppler ultrasound localization of available cutaneous perforators can predetermine the feasibility of any option, thereby ensuring a reasonable success rate regardless of pedicle orientation.
Published In/Presented At
Hallock G. G. (1997). Clinical scrutiny of the de facto superiority of proximally versus distally based fasciocutaneous flaps. Plastic and reconstructive surgery, 100(6), 1428–1433. https://doi.org/10.1097/00006534-199711000-00008
Medicine and Health Sciences
Department of Surgery