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Perforator-Based Interposition Flaps Perform Better Than Full-Thickness Grafts for the Release of Burn Scar Contractures: A Multicenter Randomized Controlled Trial

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Abstract

Background:

Burn scar contractures remain a significant problem for the severely burned patient. Reconstructive surgery is often indicated to improve function and quality of life. Skin grafts (preferably full-thickness grafts) are frequently used to cover the defect that remains after scar release. Local flaps are also used for this purpose and provide healthy skin subcutaneous tissue. The vascularization and versatility of local flaps can be further improved by enclosing a perforator at the base of the flap. Until now, no randomized controlled trial has been performed to determine which technique has the best effectiveness in burn scar contracture releasing procedures.

Methods:

A multicenter randomized controlled trial was performed to compare the effectiveness of perforator-based interposition flaps to full-thickness skin grafts for the treatment of burn scar contractures. The primary outcome parameter was change in the surface area of the flap or full-thickness skin graft. Secondary outcome parameters were width, elasticity, color, Patient and Observer Scar Assessment Scale score, and range of motion. Measurements were performed after 3 and 12 months.

Results:

The mean surface area between flaps (n = 16) and full-thickness skin grafts (n = 14) differed statistically significantly at 3 months (123 percent versus 87 percent; p < 0.001) and 12 months (142 percent versus 92 percent; p < 0.001). In terms of the secondary outcome parameters (specifically, the Patient and Observer Scar Assessment Scale observer score and color), interposition flaps showed superior results compared with full-thickness skin grafts.

Conclusion:

Perforator-based interposition flaps result in a more effective scar contracture release than full-thickness skin grafts and should therefore be preferred over full-thickness skin grafts when possible.

CLINICAL QUESTION/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:

Therapeutic, I.

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