Versatility of the Latissimus Dorsi Free Flap during the Treatment of Complex Postcraniotomy Surgical Site Infections

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Abstract

Background:

Some intractable cases of postcraniotomy infection, which can involve compromised skin, an open frontal air sinus, and residual epidural dead space, have been reported. In such cases, reconstructing the scalp and skull is challenging.

Methods:

Between 2009 and 2016, the author treated 12 patients with recalcitrant postcraniotomy surgical site infections with latissimus dorsi (LD) free flaps. The patients’ ages ranged from 37 to 79 years (mean, 63.5 years), and their underlying diseases included subarachnoid hemorrhaging (n = 5), brain tumors (n = 4), and cerebral arteriovenous malformations (n = 3).

Results:

The LD free flap was used for scalp reconstruction in 3 cases, scalp reconstruction and separation of the intracranial and nasal cavities in 5 cases, and the obliteration of epidural dead space in 4 cases. Debridement followed by staged cranial reconstruction was carried out in 8 cases, and single-stage cranial reconstruction was conducted in 2 cases. The bone defects of the other 2 cases, which were small, were filled with LD musculo-adipose free flaps. The postoperative local appearance of the wounds was acceptable in every case, and no complications occurred.

Conclusions:

The LD free flap is a versatile tool for the treatment of complex postcraniotomy surgical site infections. This vascularized muscle flap is useful for controlling local infections because of its abundant vascularity. Moreover, its variety of uses means that it can resolve several problems in cases involving complex cranial wounds.

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