Utility of Both Muscle and Fascia Flaps in Severe Lower Extremity Trauma.

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BACKGROUND: The evolving technology in trauma management today permits salvage of many severe lower extremity injuries previously even considered to be lethal. An essential component for any such treatment protocol must be adequate soft tissue coverage that often will use vascularized flaps. Traditionally, calf muscles have been used proximally and free flaps for the distal leg and foot. The reintroduction of reliable local fascia flaps has challenged this dictum, proving to be a simpler and yet versatile option.

MATERIALS AND METHOD: The role of both muscle and fascia flaps in lower extremity injuries has been retrospectively reviewed from a 2-decade experience. Soft tissue deficits requiring some form of vascularized flap occurred in 160 limbs in 155 patients. The frequency of use of flap types, specific complications and benefits, effect of timing of wound closure, and rate of limb salvage were compared.

RESULTS: Initial coverage after significant lower extremity trauma in these 160 limbs required 60 local muscle flaps, 50 local fascia flaps, and 74 free flaps. These flaps had been selected on a nonrandom basis according to wound location, its severity, and flap availability. Complications were directly related to the severity of injury, and for free flaps as a group (39%), although these were not independent variables. Local muscle (27%) or fascia flaps (30%) were similar with regard to this morbidity. Healing was more likely to be uneventful if coverage were accomplished during the acute period after injury, regardless of flap type. Muscle flaps were still used in two thirds of all cases, with the soleus muscle used as often for the distal leg as the mid-leg. Local fascia flaps were most valuable for smaller defects, especially in the distal leg or foot, and often as a reasonable alternative to a free flap.

CONCLUSION: The traditional role of the gastrocnemius muscles for flap coverage of knee and proximal leg defects and the soleus muscle for the middle third of the leg was reaffirmed. The soleus muscle often also reached distal leg defects as could local fascia flaps, where classically, otherwise, a free flap would have been necessary. The largest or most severe wounds, irrespective of limb location, required free flap coverage. Local fascia flaps proved to be a valuable alternative.





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Medicine and Health Sciences | Other Medical Specialties | Surgery




Department of Surgery, Department of Surgery Faculty

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