Bipedicle Flaps for Posterior Elbow Reconstruction
Chronic posterior elbow soft tissue defects often require soft tissue reconstruction because of exposure of the underlying triceps tendon and proximal ulna. Current options for soft tissue coverage require sacrifice of a local muscle or microsurgery. The purpose of this study is to evaluate patient and surgical outcomes after reconstruction of small-sized to medium-sized (<50 cm2) posterior elbow defects with bipedicle advancement flaps. A retrospective chart review was performed for 3 patients who underwent posterior elbow reconstruction with bipedicle flaps. The etiology of the soft tissue elbow defect was chronic infected olecranon bursitis (n=2) and exposed olecranon plate after open fracture (n=1). Patient comorbidities included: diabetes, CREST (Calcinosis, Raynaud phenomenon, Esophageal dysmotility, Sclerodactyly, Telangiectasia) syndrome, and rheumatoid arthritis. The mean patient age at time of reconstruction was 44 years (39 to 51 y), and the mean area of soft tissue defect was 39.3 cm2 (24 to 54 cm2) after debridement of involved tissue. All patients had positive intraoperative cultures and were treated with culture-directed long-term intravenous antibiotics. There were no surgical complications or flap loss. All patients had reepithelialization of the donor site by postoperative week 8 and stable soft tissue coverage of the elbow after surgery at final follow-up with full preoperative elbow range of motion. This technique offers a simple, reliable solution for soft tissue coverage of the posterior elbow using excess local tissue for primary closure of posterior elbow wounds with minimal donor-site morbidity.