Maximizing the Reach of the Pedicled Gastrocnemius Muscle Flap: A Comparison of 2 Surgical Approaches

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The medial gastrocnemius muscle flap is commonly used for the reconstruction of defects around the knee and proximal leg. The flap can be raised using either a medial or a posterior midline incision, although no studies have been done comparing the 2 different surgical approaches.


We compared the reach of the medial gastrocnemius muscle flap using either of the 2 incisions in a series of 25 fresh cadavers. All muscle flaps were elevated without division of the muscle origin. Muscle reach was calculated using the distance from a fixed bony point with the leg fully extended and the muscle under no tension. Muscle width measurements were used to calculate surface area of coverage.


Muscle flaps elevated through the posterior midline incision group reached 2.02 cm farther than flaps through the medial incision (P < 0.05). This resulted in 20.3 cm2 increase in surface area for the posterior midline incision group over the medial incision group (P < 0.05). The posterior midline incision allowed for better visualization of the vascular pedicle and dissection of fascial attachments around the pes anserinus.


The posterior midline incision for the elevation of the medial gastrocnemius pedicled muscle flap allows for a safe, thorough mobilization of the muscle resulting in increased muscle reach and increased surface area when compared with the medial incision. Furthermore, the posterior midline incision provides better access to the gastrocnemius muscle origin and the lateral muscle head.

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