Bilateral Anatomic Variation of Anterolateral Thigh Flap in the Same Individual

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Anterolateral thigh flap has gained popularity for its use as a soft-tissue flap for reconstruction of regional and distal defects. There is discrepancy between the predominant skin vessels-musculocutaneous or septocutaneous. The purpose of this study was to demonstrate anatomic variation of bilateral anterolateral thigh flap vasculature in the same individual.


We performed an observational retrospective case series study in 11 patients and an observational prospective study in 7 cadavers to confirm our findings.


We found bilateral anatomic variation in the main cutaneous branch of the descendent branch of the lateral circumflex femoral artery between both thighs in the same individual. In 72.2% of cases, we observed that the main cutaneous branch was septocutaneous in 1 thigh and musculocutaneous in the contralateral thigh; in 16.7%, the main cutaneous branches were musculocutaneous in both thighs, and in 11.1%, the main cutaneous branches were septocutaneous in both thighs.


Significant anatomic variation exists between the right and the left cutaneous branches of deep circumflex femoral arteries. Hence, preoperative imaging by computed tomography angiography (CTA) aids in determination of the vascular anatomy of the descending branch of the lateral circumflex femoral artery and in selection of septocutaneous branches, thereby reducing operative time.

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