Systematic Review and Operative Technique of Recalcitrant Pressure Ulcers Using a Fillet Flap Technique

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The purpose of this article is to describe the indications, operative technique, outcomes, and systematic review of the literature on the reconstruction of patients with end-stage pressure ulcers using a fillet flap technique. In this technique, the femur, tibia, and fibula are removed from the thigh and leg, and the soft tissue is used as a pedicled, or free, myocutaneous flap for reconstruction. Long-term outcomes, salient surgical technique of flap elevation, and design are detailed for patients who had a fillet of leg flap for reconstruction of extensive pressure ulcers.


The indications, surgical technique, and postoperative outcomes of 5 patients who had pedicled fillet flaps are reviewed including patient age, sex, underlying comorbidities, duration of paraplegia, operative technique, and complications. A systematic review of the literature was performed searching PubMed, Cochrane Database, and Medline with the following MeSH terms: pressure ulcer, pressure sore, decubitus ulcer, fillet flap, and fillet flap. Inclusion criteria were use of a fillet technique, article data on the number of reconstructions before fillet flap, complications, and English language.


Most of our patients were male 75% (n = 3) with an average age of 47.5 years, had been paralyzed for an average of 16 years, and had few medical comorbidities. Two patients (3 flaps) required hip disarticulation, 1 patient had a bilateral fillet flaps, and 3 patients had resection of tibia/fibula. After following patients for an average of 1.4 years (4 mo to 2 yr), complications were limited to 1 patient who had partial-thickness flap loss at the distal skin flap that healed by secondary intention and 1 patient who had ulcer recurrence because of noncompliance. Four articles met inclusion criteria for systematic review and 3 were excluded.


The fillet of leg flap remains a useful and reliable method of reconstructing end-stage pressure ulcers.

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