Immediate Emergency Free Anterolateral Thigh Flap Transfer for the Mutilated Upper Extremity

Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Chang Gung Medical College and Chang Gung University, Taipei, Taiwan.
Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (Impact Factor: 2.99). 07/2009; 123(6):1739-47. DOI: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e3181a65b00
Source: PubMed


Immediate emergency free flaps are defined as flaps performed directly following emergency surgery due to the exposure of major reconstructed arteries, major nerves, bones, and tendons. The authors document their experience in using free anterolateral thigh flaps in the immediate reconstruction of complex upper extremity injuries.
From January of 2000 to October of 2006, 12 patients ranging from 10 to 59 years old with complicated upper extremity traumatic injuries were treated with immediate emergency free anterolateral thigh flap transfers. These flaps were performed to cover the exposed vital structures. Flap sizes ranged from 30 x 15 to 8 x 6 cm. A variety of flap designs were used, including six flow-through flaps for upper limb revascularization and three tensor fasciae latae components for gliding planes of exposed repaired tendons. The operative times ranged from 7.2 to 12.1 hours, with an average operative time of about 9.6 hours. The hospital stay was from 13 to 34 days, with average stay of about 27.7 days.
All of the flaps survived. No re-exploration was required. Partial flap necrosis occurred in only one case. Traumatized wound infection occurred in three patients.
The anterolateral thigh flap has been popularized as the versatile flap for soft-tissue reconstruction. It has many advantages, including long pedicle length, large skin territory, flow-though and chimeric concept design, a two-team approach, and no need for changing the position. Thus, it is suitable as the immediate emergency flap for upper extremity salvage.

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    • "Though described as a SC perforator flap initially, the clinical usage and the anatomical studies revealed that MC perforators are more common. There has been a wide spread application of this flap both in trauma[34] and cancer reconstruction. Koshima et al.[56] were the first to describe the use of the ALT flap to reconstruct head and neck defects. "
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    ABSTRACT: Anterolateral thigh (ALT) flap is one of the most common flaps in the reconstruction armamentarium of plastic surgeons, but there is no published data about the flap characteristics in the Indian population. The aim of this study is to analyse the anthropomorphic characteristics of the ALT flap and the perforator details in Indian population. ALT flap details were studied in 65 patients of Indian origin comprising 45 males and 20 females. The study period is from August 2011 to July 2012. A prospective database of the Doppler findings, perforator and pedicle details and the flap morphology were maintained. The variables are analysed by using the SPSS, PASW statistics 18 software IBM(®). In nearly 75% of cases, the perforator was found within 4 cm of the pre-operative Doppler markings. The percentage of musculocutaneous and septocutaneous perforators was 61.8% and 38.2% respectively. The pedicle variation was found in 6 cases (9.23%). The average thickness of the thigh skin in Indians is similar to the western people, but thicker than the other Asian people. Flap thinning was performed in nine patients without any major complications. The perforator details and type in the Indian population are similar to the published reports from other parts of the world. We advise pre-operative Doppler examination in possible cases. The variation in pedicle anatomy should not be overlooked to avoid complications. The thickness of subcutaneous tissue of the flap is higher in Indians, but still can be safely thinned. The data of this study will serve as a guide for the ALT flap characteristics in Indian patients.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2013 · Indian Journal of Plastic Surgery
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    • "Free flap reconstruction for mangled extremities salvage is indicated when major vessels, major nerves, tendons, or bones are exposed, especially when the local tissues are violated making local flaps infeasible [25]. The anterolateral thigh flap has several advantages in mutilated extremities reconstruction. "
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    ABSTRACT: The anterolateral thigh flap can provide a large skin paddle nourished by a long and large-caliber pedicle and can be harvested by two-team work. Most importantly, the donor-site morbidity is minimal. However, the anatomic variations decreased its popularity. By adapting free-style flap concepts, such as preoperative mapping of the perforators and being familiar with retrograde perforator dissection, this disadvantage had been overcome gradually. Furthermore, several modifications widen its clinical applications: the fascia lata can be included for sling or tendon reconstruction, the bulkiness could be created by including vastus lateralis muscle or deepithelization of skin flap, the pliability could be increased by suprafascial dissection or primary thinning, the pedicle length could be lengthening by proximally eccentric placement of the perforator, and so forth. Combined with these technical and conceptual advancements, the anterolateral thigh flap has become the workhorse flap for soft-tissue reconstructions from head to toe.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2011
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    ABSTRACT: Trauma is one of the main causes of upper- and lower-limb defects. Limb injuries frequently result in complex defects, hence reconstruction can be demanding. The basic principles of trauma management and methods of reconstruction are analyzed. Then, the evolution of free tissue transfer is reviewed with particular attention to the use of anterolateral thigh flap in reconstruction of upper- and lower-limb trauma cases. The anterolateral thigh flap is the workhorse flap in our department due to its versatility in the reconstruction of complex defects. Finally, the concept of free-style perforator flaps is presented. Microsurgery has supplied the armamentarium of the plastic surgeon with a very powerful tool. Essentially, microsurgery may almost always provide a solution in cases of complex defects that cannot be covered with the simpler options of the reconstructive ladder. The recently acquired perforator flap concept will gradually become the most popular method of microsurgical reconstruction, as it minimizes donor-site morbidity and replaces "like tissue with like tissue."
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2010 · Seminars in Plastic Surgery
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