Reconstruction of elbow skin and soft tissue defects using perforator-pedicled propeller flaps

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Abstract

Background

The elbow is a challenging region to reconstruct functionally. Several closure methods for elbow wounds have been reported, including flap surgery. Here, we present the results obtained using a propeller flap pedicled by a posterior ulnar recurrence artery perforator (PURAP) or a radial collateral artery perforator (RCAP) for functional reconstruction of soft tissue defects in elbows.

Methods

Twenty-four patients with an average age of 27.0 years (range, 9–52 years) underwent elbow soft tissue reconstructions between 2005 and 2015. Twenty-one patients were male and three were female. Among them, 18 patients received a PURAP flap transfer and six received a RCAP flap transfer. The frequent soft tissue defects were due to release of a postburn scar contracture in 12 patients, trauma in ten patients. Functional results were obtained by measuring range of motion (ROM).

Results

The mean follow up time was 10.1 months (range, 4–22 months). The flaps ranged in size from 3 × 5 cm to 16 × 6 cm. Nearly all flaps survived with only one showing partial necrosis. 16 and 8 patients achieved ranges of motions of 0–5 and 6–15 degree extension and 130–145 degree flexion.

Conclusions

With the aims of easy flap harvest, primary donor site closure, skin texture match, and avoiding vascular anastomosis, both PURAP and RCAP were employed. Both flap transfer techniques were safe and effective for elbow soft tissue reconstruction. It is important to ensure that the skin defect and flap design are closely matched.

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