The Use of Combined Radial Forearm Cutaneous and Radial Forearm Fascial Flaps in Head and Neck Reconstruction: A Case Series

Department of Plastic Surgery, The Christie Hospital, NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester, United Kingdom.
Journal of Reconstructive Microsurgery (Impact Factor: 1.31). 06/2012; 28(8):495-500. DOI: 10.1055/s-0032-1315767
Source: PubMed


Reconstruction of complex head and neck cases involving bony and dural defects poses many issues. The primary aims of reconstruction are to provide a tight dural seal with good cranial support while also achieving a satisfactory cosmetic result.

This study describes the use of combined radial forearm cutaneous flap and radial forearm fascial flaps for reconstruction of complex skull defects where each component is used for a distinct reconstructive purpose. The benefits of this technique are illustrated in the cases of three patients requiring reconstruction following tumor resection.

The fascial component was used as a seal for dural defects. The cutaneous flap was then used to reconstruct the concomitant cutaneous defect.

The combined use of the fascial and cutaneous components of the radial forearm flap, where each is used for a distinct reconstructive purpose, increased the reconstructive versatility of this commonly used flap. The fascial flap was a thin, pliable, and highly vascularized piece of tissue that was effectively used to provide a watertight seal for the dural defect. The simultaneous use of the cutaneous flap gave support to the bony defect while providing a good cosmetic result.

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    ABSTRACT: Background: Free tissue transfer is commonly required for reconstruction of distal third lower extremity injuries. Injuries involving the dorsal surface of the foot require thin pliable flaps. Musculocutaneous flaps are often too bulky to accommodate shoewear. Fasciocutaneous flaps, while an improvement, need secondary contouring procedures. The modified radial forearm fascial flap (MRFFF) may offer an alternative. Methods: Twelve patients with distal third lower extremity wounds were reconstructed with MRFFF + split thickness skin graft. The modification in flap design leaves fascia radial to the pedicle unharvested, preserving sensibility of the dorsoradial aspect of the hand. Flaps were covered with a skin graft after inset. Donor sites were closed primarily. Results: Nine wounds were traumatic-five with exposed hardware, one burn, one diabetic ulcer, and one wound dehiscence following sarcoma resection + radiation. Out of 12, 11 limbs were salvaged at 1 to 2 years follow-up. All patients ambulated on the reconstructed leg and wore a shoe comfortably. Average time to weight bearing was 2 months. The donor site was limited to 25-cm scar on the volar forearm. No persistent motor/sensory deficits occurred in donor arms. Conclusion: MRFFF is an excellent flap for reconstruction of the distal lower extremity. Flap contour allows excellent shoe-fitting without secondary revisions. Replacement of the adipocutaneous flap on MRFFF donor site eliminates the need for a conspicuous donor-site skin graft. The ulnar orientation of the harvested fascia prevents sensory loss in the dorsal hand. The MRFFF provides the ideal replacement of "like with like" for selected distal lower extremity wounds.
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