The Chimeric Versatility of the Subscapular System Revisited: Backup Options, Coverage for Bone Transplants and Vascularized Lymph Nodes

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Traumatic soft tissue and bone defects are demanding challenges for the reconstructive microsurgeons. Common and safe workhorses for these reconstructions are free microvascular flaps based on the subscapular system. In this article, we want to demonstrate the versatility of the serratus anterior muscle combined with other components of the subscapular system for reconstruction of complex lower extremity defects. Three patients with traumatic soft tissue and bone defects of the lower extremity were planned for reconstruction. The defects varied in size and could be covered by 1 or 2 slips of the serratus muscle or split muscle combined with latissimus dorsi muscle flap. In 1 case, the thoracodorsal lymph node package was included for addressing severe posttraumatic lymphedema after burn injury. In another case, the serratus slips served as coverage for a free scapula bone transplant. The chimeric flaps healed without complications; no further operations were needed for reconstruction. By the use of only 1 or 2 slips of the serratus muscle, we could prevent functional impairments for the patients and reduced further scarring compared with classic latissimus dorsi—(para-) scapular combinations.

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