The Role of Muscle Flaps for Salvage of Failed Perforator Free Flaps.
BACKGROUND: Despite the most heroic efforts, sometimes free flaps fail. Perforator free flaps are not invincible and can suffer the same fate. The real challenge is how to decide what is the next best choice for achieving the desired outcome.
METHODS: Over the past decade, 298 free perforator flaps were used in our institution. Total failure occurred in 16 patients, and partial failure requiring a second free flap occurred in an additional 6 patients for a true success rate of 93%. All failures had some form of secondary vascularized tissue transfer, which included the use of muscle flaps in 9 (41%) different patients.
RESULTS: Initial flap salvage after a failed perforator free flap was attempted with 12 perforator and 5 muscle free flaps as well as 1 perforator and 2 muscle local flaps. These were not all successful, with loss of 3 muscle free flaps and 3 perforator flaps. Tertiary free flap coverage was successful in 3 cases using 2 muscle flaps and 1 perforator free flap. Local fasciocutaneous flaps or primary wound closure was used in the remaining individuals.
CONCLUSIONS: Microsurgical tissue transfers can be the most rewarding and at the same time the most challenging reconstructive endeavor. Persistence in achieving the desired outcome can require multiple steps. Perforator flaps are an important asset to obtain this goal. However, muscle flaps can still be a useful alternative, and the message is that they should not be overlooked as sometimes a viable option.
Published In/Presented At
Hallock G. G. (2015). The Role of Muscle Flaps for Salvage of Failed Perforator Free Flaps. Plastic and reconstructive surgery. Global open, 3(11), e564. https://doi.org/10.1097/GOX.0000000000000537
Medicine and Health Sciences
Department of Surgery