Reconstruction of the Weight-Bearing Surface of the Foot with Nonneurosensory Free Flaps


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Abstract

Neurotized fasciocutaneous flaps and split-skin grafted muscle flaps are the most frequently used free flap alternatives for the reconstruction of weight-bearing surfaces of the foot. An objective comparison of the innate characteristics of these two flap types, with respect to long-term stability, has not been possible because sensory reinnervation in the fasciocutaneous flaps has been a confounding factor. This study compares nonsensate fasciocutaneous flaps (n = 9) with nonsensate split-skin grafted muscle flaps (n = 11), with mean follow-up periods of 34.3 and 31.3 months, respectively. Patients completed a form that included questions regarding degree of pain at the operative site, presence of ulcers, ability to wear normal shoes, employment status, and time spent standing on foot. Touch and deep sensation were evaluated with Semmes-Weinstein and vibration tests, respectively. Significantly less pain and less ulceration (p < 0.05) were observed in the fasciocutaneous group. Semmes-Weinstein monofilament tests revealed poorer results with split-skin grafted muscle flaps, compared with fasciocutaneous flaps. These results indicate that even if the sensory protection of fasciocutaneous flaps is not considered, these flaps have superior properties, compared with split-skin grafted muscle flaps.

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