FUNCTIONAL RESURFACING OF THE PALM: FLAP SELECTION BASED ON DEFECT ANALYSIS


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Abstract

Extensive defect coverage of the palm and anatomical reconstruction of its unique functional capacity remains difficult. In manual laborers, reconstruction of sensation, range of motion, grip strength but also mechanical stability is required. Sensate musculo-/fasciocutaneous flaps bear disadvantages of tissue mobility with shifting/bulkiness under stress. Thin muscle and fascial flaps show adherence but preclude sensory nerve coaptation. The purpose of this review is to present our algorithm for reliable selection of the most appropriate procedure based on defect analysis. Defect analysis focusing on units of tactile gnosis provides information to weigh needs for sensation or soft tissue stability. We distinguish radial unit (r)-thenar, ulnar unit (u)-hypothenar and unit (c)-central plus distal palm. Individual parameters need similar consideration to choose adequate treatment. Unit (r) and unit (u) are regions of secondary touch demanding protective sensation. Restoration of sensation using neurovascular, fasciocutaneous flaps is recommended. In unit (c), tactile gnosis is of less, mechanical resistance of greater value. Reconstruction of soft tissue resistance is suggested first in this unit. In laborers, free fascial- or muscle flaps with plantar instep skin grafts may achieve near to anatomical reconstruction with minimal sensation. Combined defects involving unit (c) require correlation with individual parameters for optimal flap selection. Defect coverage of the palm should not consist of merely providing sensate vascularized tissue. The most appropriate procedure should be derived from careful defect analysis to achieve near to anatomical reconstruction. In laborers, defect related demands need close correlation with sensation and mechanical stability to be expected.

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