The purpose of this study was to introduce a comprehensive approach to lower extremity free-tissue transfer and report the clinical outcome that has been achieved with this approach.Methods:
The comprehensive approach developed by the author includes patient selection, flap selection, selection of the recipient vessels, flap dissection, flap preparation, microvascular anastomosis, flap inset, immediate postoperative care, intermediate postoperative care, and further follow-up care. Each part of this approach has its own special considerations. In an 8-year period, 28 consecutive lower extremity free-tissue transfers were performed in 28 patients by the author. The clinical outcomes were recorded based on the success of free-tissue transfer, any reoperations related to the revision of microvascular anastomosis, and any partial or total flap loss during an 8-year follow-up.Results:
All 28 lower extremity free-tissue transfers were performed successfully. All patients were discharged home once they tolerated dangling. No reoperations were needed for revision of microvascular anastomosis. No total or partial flap loss was encountered. Overall success of free-tissue transfer to the lower extremity in this series was 100%.Conclusions:
An ideal outcome of free-tissue transfer to the lower extremity can be accomplished with this comprehensive approach developed by the author. With good surgical judgment, adequate microsurgical skill, step-by-step intraoperative execution, and a protocol-driven clinical practice, the reconstructive surgeon should be able to improve his or her success for free-tissue transfer to the lower extremity.