Gastrocnemius Myocutaneous Flaps for Knee Joint Coverage

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Abstract

Introduction

The gastrocnemius muscular flap has already proven its efficiency for soft tissue coverage in cases of knee joint exposure. However, it may be too small to cover large defects and has not the same aesthetic and mechanical properties as normal skin. Perforator fasciocutaneous flaps have recently been described in knee joint coverage with good results as they replace skin by skin, but they can be hard to harvest. Gastrocnemius flaps can be easily harvested with a planned skin paddle designed over the chosen muscle. This simple technique combines the advantages of muscular and fasciocutaneous flaps for knee joint area coverage. Perforator fasciocutaneous flap take a growing place in coverage of this localization in recent literature, but very few articles report the results of gastrocnemius myocutaneous flaps (MCFs).

Methods

All patients who underwent knee joint coverage with the use of a lateral or medial gastrocnemius MCFs between January 2012 and February 2017 in our university institution were included in this retrospective study.

Results

Sixteen gastrocnemius MCFs (10 medial and 6 lateral) were performed. The indication was posttraumatic in 5 cases, posttumoral in 5 cases, and after total knee prosthesis exposure in 6 cases. Skin paddles up to 15 cm in width and 18 cm in length were harvested. Complete healing was achieved in 15 days in all cases without suffering or nonunion. Three flaps were secondarily raised to allow total knee prosthesis reimplantation or arthrodesis, and 4 patients were treated with postoperative radiotherapy without complication.

Conclusions

In addition to its reliability and very easy harvesting, the gastrocnemius MCF allows a robust joint coverage and good skin resurfacing that makes eventual revision easier and allows early radiotherapy. Furthermore, skin paddle also increases the effective area of the flap. This technique should always be considered with the other classic alternatives.

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