Designing the Anterolateral Thigh Flap without Preoperative Doppler or Imaging

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The anterolateral thigh (ALT) flap is now considered a workhorse for head and neck reconstruction in many centers. However, designing and raising the ALT flap has been traditionally recognized as being difficult, tedious, and technically demanding due to its variation in perforator anatomy. Designing the ALT flap on data gained solely using the handheld Doppler can be misleading, as its specificity and sensitivity varies greatly depending on amount of subcutaneous fat and the Doppler itself. Authors have investigated multiple imaging modalities in the search of the best way to predict and map the site and size of perforators before dissecting a flap. In this article, we describe a simplified technique for the ALT flap design and dissection without the use of preoperative imaging or vascular studies. Utilizing anatomic landmarks, the location of the three perforators (A, B, and C) can be anticipated and safely dissected. We conclude that accurate use of the ABC system is one approach in consistently dissecting the ALT flap.

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