Reverse Sural Artery Flap for the Reconstruction of Chronic Lower Extremity Wounds in High-Risk Patients

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Soft tissue defects in patients with chronic comorbidities place these patients at high risk for amputation, even when their underlying problems are controlled. The reverse sural artery flap is an effective technique for closing these defects and saving the limb. We retrospectively reviewed 15 consecutive high-risk patients who underwent a sural artery flap procedure between 2003 and 2005 as a final attempt to prevent having a below-the-knee amputation. All of our patients presented with at least 1 comorbidity, with a majority having multiple. Comorbidities in our patient population consisted primarily of diabetes mellitus with neuropathy, critical limb ischemia, end-stage renal disease, and various cardiomyopathies. All patients presented before surgical intervention with a longstanding history of chronic ulcerations that had failed multiple healing strategies. Ulcerations were located at various regions of the foot and ankle such as the heel, lateral malleolus, medial malleolus, and the lateral midfoot. Of those 15 procedures, three failed completely and two had complete dermal necrosis with viable adipose tissue that healed secondarily. The remaining ten flaps healed primarily. We used negative pressure therapy preoperatively in seven patients and postoperatively in five patients. We obtained a success rate of 80%. The reverse sural artery flap has many advantages over free flaps, which has made it a viable treatment option in chronic ulcerations that have failed conservative attempts.

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