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ALT Free Flap procedure had a higher score in the appearance domain. This is may be due to the donor site scar of ALT FLAP which is less likely to be exposed.
Reconstructive options for groin defects can be Sartorius, Gracilis, Rectus abdominis, Rectus Femoris, Tensor Fascia Lata muscle and myocutaneous flaps, Anterolateral thigh flap and local skin flaps.84 Sartorius has a segmental blood supply (Type IV) and thin muscle belly, which is not suitable in many of the cases for the type of defect we need to cover. Skin availability is limited in Gracilis flaps and rectus abdominis myocutaneous flap leads to abdominal wall weakness. Tensor Fascia Lata flap creates unacceptable dog ears and there is need for skin grafting at donor site, while rectus femoris flap may cause weakness of knee extension. The requirements of the recipient site dictate the choice of flaps in a particular case. However, we have used the ALT flaps due to its advantages:
Kimata Y. et al.52 reported their experience of 74 cases where the ALT flaps were used successfully as pedicled flaps primarily for reconstructing groin and abdominal wall defects. In most of the cases they have used it as a fasciocutaneous flap while we also have mainly used it as a fasciocutaneous flap to meet the recipient site requirement. Sheng Kang Luo et al.35 have demonstrated that ALT fasciocutaneous flaps can be used for difficult perineal and genital area reconstruction, especially scrotal reconstruction. This once again proves the versatility of pedicled ALT flaps as a reconstructive tool. In our study, Partial flap losses were managed by debridement and primary closure.
Among the traumas to the UEs and the LEs, severe soft tissue defects exposing ligaments or bones require reconstruction to prevent an infection. Reconstruction methods largely include a skin graft, a local pedicle flap, a distant pedicle flap, and a free flap. The primary purpose of reconstruction using the free flap is insulating the exposed tissue from the outside, but approaches to the UEs and the LEs are different in terms of functional. The UE is the most exposed area and its functional recovery for activities of daily living as well as aesthetic recovery should be the focus of treatment. The LEs, on the other hand, are largely hidden. Therefore, compared with the UEs, the basic functions of the LEs, such as the ability to wear shoes and walk without pain, are more important than aesthetic recovery.
According to previous studies, in the reconstruction of the LEs, the donor site on the same side of the recipient extremity is advantageous because intra-operative positional change is not necessary. However, in cases of femoral fractures, pelvic fractures, or soft tissue defects, the opposite side that has no vascular injuries is optimal for flap elevation. These results are consistent with those of our study where satisfaction of patients with the choice of the donor site was significantly higher However, there are two additional factors when it comes to ALT flap reconstruction. The first factor is anatomical structure. Another factor is the simultaneous operation by 2 teams, which could reduce the operative time. In our series, the choice of the donor site impacted the operative time. Therefore, further studies are necessary to decide whether patient satisfaction or reduced operative time is more important.
This contrasts favorably with the radial forearm flap which, although it is a thin and pliable flap, leaves an ugly scar on the exposed part of the forearm.
In the reconstruction of lower limb defects, the idea still prevails that muscle flaps are a prerequisite to cope with infection. There is little or no substantial evidence though to prove the superiority of muscle flaps compared with well-vascularized skin flaps. Clinical evidence supports the idea that skin flap coverage in itself is sufficient, if only adequate debridement and hemostasis, mechanical rinsing, and obliteration of dead spaces have been performed.
Essentially what we are looking for in the majority of cases of lower extremity reconstruction are thin, large, and well-vascularized skin flaps, with long pedicles of adequate size, nice texture match, and minimal donor site morbidity.
The anterolateral thigh flap has all the advantages of most perforator flaps: a large skin island, reliable and long pedicle, and depending on cultural biases, acceptable donor-site morbidity. In the lower leg, the possibility of harvesting a flap on the same leg without further functional impairment offers an additional advantage.
However, with the plethora of different type of flaps available, donor-site morbidity and the exact matching of the flap with the recipient site to increase functional and aesthetic outcome become more important considerations. With this, cultural differences come into the issue. Seemingly, Asian patients tend to be leaner than Western patients and are more willing to accept the scar and the eventual contour deformity on the thigh, which can occur even after primary closure.
The descending branch of the lateral circumflex femoral artery was always accompanied by two veins with different back-flow strengths. Therefore, veins for microsurgical anastomosis must be chosen carefully. Because it is nourished by several perforators arising from the descending artery, the vastus lateralis muscle can be combined with the anterolateral thigh flap. However, splitting the muscle longitudinally without harvesting its blood supply is complicated because its fibers are oblique. The rectus femoris muscle can also be combined with the anterolateral.
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