Is the Oblique Branch a Preferable Vascular Pedicle for Anterolateral Thigh Free Flaps?

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Abstract

Background

The oblique branch of the lateral circumflex femoral artery is considered an alternative vascular pedicle of the anterolateral thigh (ALT) flap. However, the oblique branch has several advantages over the descending branch.

Methods

A total of 61 consecutive ALT free flaps were harvested according to Yu's ABC system. Vascular pedicle dimensions and length, artery course, perforator origins, and flap harvest time with the oblique branch or the descending branch were recorded. We classified the ALT flaps with oblique branches into three types according to the origin of perforator B. Type I flaps were those where perforator B originated from the descending branch. Type II flaps were those without perforator B. Type III flaps were those where perforator B originated from the oblique branch.

Results

The mean ± standard deviation (SD) diameter of the oblique branch at its origin was 1.68 ± 0.51 mm, with an average ± SD pedicle length of 12.92 ± 3.7 cm, while that of the descending branch was 2.27 ± 0.49 mm and 18.73 ± 5.14 cm, respectively. The percentage of septocutaneous perforators from the oblique branch was 35.59%, while that from the descending branch was 15.38%. The flap harvest time with the oblique branch was 33.73 ± 11.68 minutes, while that of the descending branch was 52.27 ± 7.21 minutes. Based on the origin of perforator B, 7 cases had type I ALT flaps, 4 had type II ALT flaps, and 10 had type III ALT flaps. Various ALT flaps based on the oblique branch were harvested, and good clinical results were achieved.

Conclusion

The oblique branch is sufficiently large and can be reliably used as the flap pedicle. It may be the preferred vascular pedicle for ALT free flaps.

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