Vastus Lateralis Muscle Flaps for Monitoring Buried Anterolateral Thigh Flaps

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Abstract

Postoperative monitoring of buried anterolateral thigh flaps is difficult with standard methods. Although a monitoring skin flap based on a second cutaneous perforator is often used, it requires tedious dissection of 2 sets of perforators and cannot be used when a second perforator is absent. We present 2 patients who underwent head and neck reconstruction with buried anterolateral thigh flaps, which were monitored with a small, externalized segment of the vastus lateralis muscle accompanying the main skin island. Both flaps survived, and the monitoring muscle flaps remained pink throughout the postoperative period until removal. For monitoring, a vastus lateralis muscle flap has several advantages over a skin flap. This method obviates the need for dissecting a second cutaneous perforator and allows reliable monitoring regardless of the number of available cutaneous perforators. We believe this method is a versatile option for monitoring buried anterolateral thigh flaps.

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