Impact of Two Attendings on the Outcomes of Microvascular Limb Reconstruction

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Free tissue transfers are routinely performed for extremity reconstruction. In an era of increasing economic pressure in many healthcare systems, efficiency needs to be optimized for any kind of operative procedure. This study is examining the possible benefit of a two-attending approach to microsurgical reconstruction of the limbs using antero-lateral thigh- (ALT) or gracilis-muscle flaps at a major academic microsurgical center.


309 patients underwent 392 free ALT- (206) or gracilis-muscle (186) flaps for limb defect reconstruction at our institution (2009-2015). All available data was retrospectively screened for patients' demographics, perioperative details, surgical complications, and overall flap survival. The cases were divided into two groups according to the number of operating microsurgeons: one versus two attendings.


No significant differences existed between the two groups (341 “one attending” versus 51 “two attendings”) regarding preoperative comorbidities. Overall, there was no significant difference between both groups regarding operative times, revision surgery rates, total as well as partial flap loss, and hospital length of stay (p > 0.05) during the 3-month follow-up period. Further, evaluating ALT and gracilis flaps separately also showed no significant differences between both groups (one versus two attendings).


The addition of a second operating attending does not significantly shorten surgery times, hospital length of stay, need for revision surgery, or complications rates. A two-operation surgeon approach may therefore only provide a marginal benefit in microsurgical limb reconstruction.

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