The vascular basis of the thoracodorsal artery perforator flap

Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology and Surgery, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (Impact Factor: 3.33). 10/2005; 116(3):818-22. DOI: 10.1097/01.prs.0000176253.42394.7c
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Musculocutaneous perforator flaps, or more simply, perforator flaps, have become increasingly popular in microsurgery because of numerous advantages, including reduced donor-site morbidity. The thoracodorsal artery perforator flap is a cutaneous flap based on cutaneous perforators of the thoracodorsal vessels. The objective of this study was to document the vascular anatomy of this flap in human cadaveric studies.
The anatomy of the perforators of the thoracodorsal artery was studied using a modified lead oxide-gelatin injection technique in 15 fresh human cadavers. Each fresh cadaver was injected with lead oxide, gelatin, and water, and then cooled to 4 degrees C for 24 hours before dissection. The torso was dissected to identify all cutaneous perforators in the region of the back and flank.
The mean area of the primary and secondary zones supplied by the thoracodorsal artery was 255 cm2 and 345 cm2, respectively. The mean length of the major and minor axes was 18 cm and 13 cm, respectively. The maximum dimensions of the skin that could potentially be supplied by the thoracodorsal artery averaged 600 cm2, with a major axis length of 28 cm and a minor axis length of 27 cm. A mean number of 5.5 perforators with a mean diameter of 0.9 mm (range, 0.5 to 1.5 mm) supplied this zone. The ratio of musculocutaneous to septocutaneous perforators from the thoracodorsal artery was 3:2. The length of the thoracodorsal pedicle when harvested along with the perforator was 14.0 cm, with the vessel diameter being 2.8 mm at the origin. The most proximal perforator was seen at the level of the inferior angle of the scapula, 3.0 cm medial to the anterior border of the muscle. The intramuscular course of the perforators averaged 5 cm (range, 3 to 7 cm). Septocutaneous perforators from the thoracodorsal artery supplying the skin in addition to the musculocutaneous perforators were seen in 60 percent of specimens.
The thoracodorsal artery perforator flap is a reliable cutaneous perforator flap that is very useful in a wide variety of clinical applications.

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