Versatility and Reliability of Combined Flaps of the Subscapular System

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One-stage reconstructions of complex or unusually large defects frequently require composite tissue transfers. The various components of these “chimeric” flaps facilitate three-dimensional reconstructions or the coverage of large surface defects. Data from 36 combined flaps from the subscapular arterial system are demonstrated in this series. Defect locations were evenly distributed between the upper and lower extremities. Eighty-three percent were two-component flaps, and 17 percent contained three or more various tissue components. Overall flap survival was 97 percent. Major complications included vascular revisions in four patients and seven secondary skin transplantations. Five cases contained osseous components. The independent mobility of skin, muscle, and bone proved to be a major advantage in the reconstruction of compound defects.

Donor-site morbidity was acceptable; the most frequent donor-site complication was persistent seroma in 9 of 36 patients (25 percent). Patient satisfaction was high. Ninetyone percent were satisfied with the operative result and would undergo the operation again. Eighty-six percent accepted the aesthetic appearance of the donor site.

The data demonstrate that these complex flap procedures are extremely reliable and versatile, thus avoiding multiple reconstructive procedures and achieving excellent reconstructive results with acceptable donor-site morbidity. (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 103: 1386, 1999.)

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