Improving outcomes of locoregional flaps: an emphasis on anatomy and basic science

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Abstract

Purpose of review

There has been renewed interest by surgeons in locoregional flaps for facial renconstructive problems previously thought to be optimally managed by microvascular tissue transfer. Complication rates of locoregional flaps are similar to those of free flaps. Successful reconstruction using local flaps is largely based on an understanding of regional vascular anatomy.

Recent findings

Sternocleidomastoid and trapezius muscle flap studies have elucidated patterns of arterial and venous anatomy to allow for improved flap design. Perioral vascular studies in cadavers demonstrate consistent and reliable patterns of blood supply. The terminal vascular anatomy of the submental island flap has been recently studied. The reverse-flow submental artery flap has been used to reconstruct periorbital soft tissue defects. Preliminary studies show that a full-thickness forehead flap can be utilized to simultaneously reconstruct both the external and internal surfaces of the nose. Basic fibroblast growth factor has been found to have a protective effect on random skin flap viability.

Summary

Locoregional flaps remain a useful tool for head and neck reconstruction, and often provide unique characteristics not available with free flap reconstruction. A sound understanding of vascular anatomy and recent basic science discoveries will significantly improve success of locoregional reconstruction.

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