Salvage of a free radial forearm flap by creation of an arteriovenous fistula at the distal arterial pedicle

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Interdisciplinary approaches with infrainguinal bypass grafts and free flaps between the plastic and vascular surgery may well offer an opportunity for diabetic patients with peripheral vascular disease to salvage their critically affected limbs. A free flap transfer combined with an autologous vein graft can cover large tissue defects and simultaneously improve distal perfusion even in patients with arterial occlusive disease. We are presenting a case of bypass-free radial forearm flap used to cover a foot defect in an old diabetic patient with peripheral arterial disease. The flap perfusion deteriorated significantly during the early postoperative period. The patient was brought back to the operating room with acute thrombosis of the popliteal-radial venous graft and the arterial pedicle of the flap. The flap was salvaged by thrombectomy and creation of an additional arteriovenous fistula at the distal arterial pedicle. The procedure improved the flap perfusion and decreased the high internal resistance that was noticed in the flap when trying to flush the radial artery during the revision surgery and was evident by continuous wave -Doppler sonography. The successful salvage of the flap in the presented case and the convenient long-term follow up suggest that this technique may be safe and helpful as a last effort to salvage a bypass-free flap with a suspected high internal resistance. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Microsurgery 33:391–395, 2013.

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