Long-term Outcomes After Flap Reconstruction in Pediatric Pressure Ulcers

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Pressure ulcers refractory to nonoperative management may undergo flap reconstruction. This study aims to evaluate the long-term outcomes and recurrence rates of flap reconstruction for pediatric pressure ulcers.


We reviewed the records of patients who underwent flap reconstruction for pressure ulcer(s) from 1995 to 2013.


Twenty-four patients with 30 pressure ulcers, requiring 52 flaps were included. Ulcers were stages III and IV and mostly involved either the ischia (15/30) or sacrum (8/30). Flaps were followed for a median of 4.9 years. Twenty-three patients were wheelchair dependent, and 20 had sensory impairment at their ulcer site(s). Ten patients had a history of noncompliance with preoperative management, 8 of whom experienced ulcer recurrence. Twenty-one ulcers had underlying osteomyelitis, associated with increased admissions (P = 0.019) and cumulative length of stay (P = 0.031). Overall, there was a 42% recurrence rate in ulceration after flap reconstruction. Recurrence was associated with a preoperative history of noncompliance with nonoperative therapy (P = 0.030), but not with flap type or location, age, sex, body mass index, osteomyelitis, or urinary/fecal incontinence (P > 0.05, all).


Flap reconstruction can be beneficial in the management of pediatric pressure ulcers. Although high rates of long-term success with this intervention have been reported in children, we found rates of ulcer recurrence similar to that seen in adults. Poor compliance with nonoperative care and failure to modify the biopsychosocial perpetuators of pressure ulcers will likely eventuate in postoperative recurrence. Despite the many comorbidities observed in our patient sample, compliance was the best indicator of long-term skin integrity and flap success.

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