Different Recipient Vessels for Free Microsurgical Fibula Flaps in the Treatment of Avascular Necrosis of the Femoral Head: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

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Abstract

Background

Several recipient vessels can be used in free microsurgical fibula flaps (MFFs) for the treatment of avascular necrosis of the femoral head (ANFH). Few articles investigate the influence of different recipient vessels on outcomes of MFF for ANFH.

Methods

A comprehensive literature search of databases including PubMed-Medline, Ovid-Embase, and Cochrane Library was performed to collect the related studies. The Medical Subject Headings used were “femur head necrosis” and “bone transplantation.” The relevant words in title or abstract included but not limited to “fibula flap,” “fibular flap,” “vascularized fibula,” “vascularized fibular,” “free fibula,” “free fibular,” “femoral head necrosis,” “avascular necrosis of femoral head,” and “ischemic necrosis of femoral head.” The methodological index for nonrandomized studies was adopted for assessing the studies included in this review.

Results

Finally, 15 studies encompassing a total of 1267 patients (1603 hips) with ANFH were pooled in the overall analysis. Recipient vessels for MFF included the ascending branch of the lateral circumflex femoral artery and vein in 8 studies, descending branch of the lateral circumflex femoral artery and vein in 2 studies, second perforating branch of the deep femoral artery and vein in 4 studies, and inferior gluteal artery and vein in 1 study. Preoperative and postoperative average Harris hip score and pooled analyses of the rate of conversion, radiographic progression, and hip surgery–related complications showed no significant difference on the outcomes of MFF on ANFH between using different recipient vessels.

Conclusions

Different recipient vessels did not affect outcomes in MFF procedures for ANFH. High-quality randomized controlled trials and prospective studies would be necessary to clarify reliable advantages and disadvantages between different recipient vessels. Until then, surgeons are justified in using ascending branch of the lateral circumflex femoral artery and vein, descending branch of the lateral circumflex femoral artery and vein, second perforating branch of the deep femoral artery and vein, and inferior gluteal artery and vein vessels according to care circumstances and customary practice.

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