© 2006 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved.                                                       ACS Surgery: Principles and ...
© 2006 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved.                                                           ACS Surgery: Principles ...
© 2006 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved.                                                    ACS Surgery: Principles and Pra...
© 2006 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved.                                                       ACS Surgery: Principles and ...
© 2006 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved.                                                        ACS Surgery: Principles and...
© 2006 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved.                                                         ACS Surgery: Principles an...
© 2006 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved.                                                           ACS Surgery: Principles ...
© 2006 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved.                                                        ACS Surgery: Principles and...
© 2006 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved.                                                       ACS Surgery: Principles and ...
© 2006 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved.                                                             ACS Surgery: Principle...
© 2006 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved.                                                          ACS Surgery: Principles a...
© 2006 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved.                                                                                   ...
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Acs0307 Surface Reconstructive Procedure

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Acs0307 Surface Reconstructive Procedure

  1. 1. © 2006 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved. ACS Surgery: Principles and Practice 3 BREAST, SKIN, AND SOFT TISSUE 7 Surface Reconstruction Procedures — 1 7 SURFACE RECONSTRUCTION PROCEDURES Joseph J. Disa, M.D., F.A.C.S., Eric G. Halvorson, M.D., Himansu R. Shah, M.D. General Technical Issues in Plastic Surgical Wound Repair Continuous over-and-over sutures are used for much the same The key to achieving optimal results in wound closure is correct purposes as simple sutures.They can be placed more quickly than approximation of the wound edges.1 Because remodeling scars con- interrupted sutures because knots are needed only at the begin- tract downward, it is essential that the edges be maximally everted ning and the end; however, it is harder to distribute tension even- to prevent the development of a depression at the closure site.2 Such ly over a nonlinear wound with a continuous over-and-over suture. eversion can easily be accomplished either with carefully placed When it is not possible to achieve a tension-free environment in simple sutures or with vertical or horizontal mattress sutures. It is which the dermis is properly apposed with buried sutures, mat- also important that closure be performed in layers so as to elimi- tress sutures may be preferred. These sutures generally provide better eversion of wound edges in areas where significant tension nate dead space. Accurate realignment of wound edges is especial- is present (e.g., on the lower extremities or over bony promi- ly critical with facial injuries. In the case of a defect involving the nences); however, they tend to induce more wound edge ischemia vermilion border of the lip, it is very helpful to mark the exact posi- and thus must be placed carefully. Half-buried mattress sutures tion of the lip margin with a marking pen. For a full-thickness lac- are commonly employed for anchoring flaps and skin grafts, par- eration of the lip, the mucous membrane should be repaired first ticularly at the corners. with absorbable suture material. The muscle layer should then be The type of suture material used depends on personal prefer- repaired with absorbable suture material. Skin closure is per- ence to some extent; however, for the face, permanent suture formed last. Placement of the initial suture at the vermilion border material (e.g., 5-0 or 6-0 nylon) is generally preferred. Needle facilitates accurate alignment; a mismatch of more than 1 mm will marks can be prevented by removing sutures earlier rather than be visible from a conversational distance. later [see Table 1]. Fundamental to any plastic surgical wound repair is good sutur- After a suture is placed, care should be taken to tie the knot ing technique. Careful handling of tissues and placement of su- properly. The knot should be brought to one side of the wound, tures facilitates optimal wound healing and minimizes scar forma- and the tension should be adjusted so that the skin edges are tion. A curved cutting needle is typically used to repair skin. With apposed without compromising the blood supply. The optimal the surgeon’s forearm fully pronated, the point of the needle is distance between sutures varies depending on the anatomic site passed through the skin and the dermis at right angles to the skin undergoing repair; however, on the face, sutures should be ap- surface. As the forearm is supinated, the curve of the needle caus- proximately 3 to 4 mm apart and be placed 2 mm from the wound es the point to penetrate the dermis on the opposite side of the edge. Besides sutures, both staples and adhesive strips are current- wound. At every step, it is vital to cause as little tissue trauma as ly used for wound closure. Whereas the former are commonly possible. Gentle pressure on the skin with a closed Adson forceps employed for lacerations of the scalp, where cosmetic outcome is or a skin hook will achieve eversion of the wound margins and of less importance, the latter are commonly employed when the allow proper suture placement without crushing the skin edge. wound is superficial and the edges can be easily approximated Excessive pressure on the forceps can lead to ischemia of the with little tension. Adhesive glues can also be used for superficial wound edge and diminish the quality of wound healing. wounds; they are especially useful in children and in patients Plastic surgical repair of an open wound may involve any of the whose wounds are located in areas where a durable protective bar- following types of sutures: (1) simple interrupted sutures, (2) ver- rier is desired (e.g., the axilla or the groin). tical mattress sutures, (3) horizontal mattress sutures, (4) subcu- ticular continuous sutures, (5) half-buried horizontal mattress sutures, or (6) continuous over-and-over sutures [see Figure 1]. No Skin Grafts single suturing technique is ideal for all contexts; clearly, individ- Skin grafts are generally used to cover large open wounds that ual surgeons have differing preferences depending on the clinical are not infected [see 3:3 Open Wound Requiring Reconstruction]. situation or on personal choice. In general, however, simple, sub- Healing requires a well-vascularized bed. Use of a skin graft is con- cuticular, and continuous sutures are preferred because they tend traindicated in the presence of any of the following: (1) gross infec- to produce less wound edge ischemia and ultimately result in bet- tion, (2) cortical bone denuded of periosteum, (3) a tendon ter scars. Whichever technique is employed, the mechanism of denuded of paratenon, (4) cartilage denuded of perichondrium, trauma will have some influence on the cosmetic outcome: crush and (5) heavily contaminated or irradiated areas (a relative rather or shear injuries, such as those that occur in falls or motor vehicle than absolute contraindication). accidents, result in less favorable scars than those caused by sharp lacerations, such as glass or knife cuts. CLASSIFICATION Simple interrupted sutures are useful for closing simple wounds Skin grafts are divided into two categories on the basis of thick- without excess tension. Subcuticular continuous sutures are use- ness: (1) split-thickness (or partial-thickness) grafts and (2) full- ful for approximating wound edges without tension after the der- thickness grafts. A full-thickness graft contains the entire epidermis mis has been approximated with buried deep dermal sutures. and dermis, whereas a split-thickness graft contains the epidermis
  2. 2. © 2006 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved. ACS Surgery: Principles and Practice 3 BREAST, SKIN, AND SOFT TISSUE 7 Surface Reconstruction Procedures — 2 a b c d e f Figure 1 Shown are types of sutures used in plastic surgical wound repair. (a) Simple interrupted sutures. An equal bite of tissue is taken on each side of the wound; to ensure eversion of skin edges, a significant amount of deeper tissue is incorporated. (b) Vertical mattress sutures. Bites are taken either (1) first close to the wound and then distant from it or (2) vice versa. Bites on either side of the wound must be equally spaced from the skin edges. (c) Horizontal mattress sutures. As with vertical mattress sutures, all bites are equally spaced from the skin edges. (d) Subcuticular continuous suture. All bites, except for entrance and exit bites, are within the dermis at the same level; the suture should enter and exit the dermis at right angles. (e) Half-buried horizontal mattress sutures. These are similar to standard horizontal mattress sutures except that tissue opposite the side where the stitch enters the skin is grasped in the subcuticular level; thus, the needle passes into and out of the epidermis at only two locations. (f) Continuous over-and-over suture. This resembles a simple suture except that it is continuously passed through the wound until the desired terminus is reached. but only part of the dermis [see Figure 2]. Split-thickness grafts are OPERATIVE TECHNIQUE further subdivided into thin and thick split-thickness grafts. Full-thickness skin grafts can be harvested from anywhere on Full-Thickness Grafts the body, but they are most frequently taken from the upper eye- The recipient site is adequately debrided, and the defect is mea- lid, the buttocks, the arms, the groin, and the postauricular and sured. An outline of the defect is made on the graft site. If the graft supraclavicular areas. Because of their higher elastin content, such is circular, it may have to be converted to an ellipse for smooth clo- grafts are associated with more primary contraction than split- thickness grafts are; however, they are less often associated with secondary contraction. Full-thickness skin grafts are less likely to Table 1—Optimal Timing of Suture become hyperpigmented than split-thickness skin grafts are. Removal after Wound Closure Because primary closure of the donor site is required, the size of a full-thickness graft is limited by the dimensions of the site from Optimal Suture Removal Time which it comes. Closure Site (days after closure) Split-thickness skin grafts can be harvested from any of a num- ber of broad, flat areas of the body, including the thigh, the but- Eyelid 3–5 tocks, the back, the abdomen, the chest, and the posterior neck. In Face 5–7 general, split-thickness grafts are more readily available than full- thickness grafts; in addition, they have better survival rates Lip 5–7 because plasmic imbibition (the process by which a skin graft is Hands/feet 10–14 nourished by the underlying tissue) is more effective with thinner grafts. The main disadvantages of split-thickness grafts vis-à-vis Trunk 7–10 full-thickness grafts are the increased secondary contraction and Breast 7–10 the higher incidence of hyperpigmentation.
  3. 3. © 2006 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved. ACS Surgery: Principles and Practice 3 BREAST, SKIN, AND SOFT TISSUE 7 Surface Reconstruction Procedures — 3 ically, Xeroform (Kendall Healthcare, Mansfield, Massachusetts) wrapped around cotton soaked with mineral oil or saline [see Figure 3d]. The donor site is then closed, either in two layers (for Split-thickness thicker donor sites, such as the groin) or in a single layer (for thin- Skin Graft ner donor sites, such as the eyelid). Thin Epidermis Split-Thickness Grafts Medium A split-thickness graft may be harvested with a Humby knife, a Weck blade, or a power-driven dermatome. Currently, a power- Dermis driven dermatome is the most popular choice. Thick Harvesting and placement of a split-thickness skin graft is a rel- atively simple technique; however, attention to detail is necessary Full-thickness to optimize graft take.The key to how well a skin graft takes is the Skin Graft quality of the recipient bed; the relevant contraindications should Subcutaneous be kept in mind (see above). Tissue The recipient wound is debrided until a uniform bleeding sur- face is encountered. Extra care should be taken to debride areas of nonviable tissue because the graft will not take in such areas. Meticulous hemostasis is crucial because hematoma is the most Figure 2 Skin grafts. Shown are the layers of the skin in cross common cause of graft loss. The defect is then measured [see section. The levels at which split-thickness and full-thickness skin grafts are harvested are noted. Figure 4a], and the donor site is marked to indicate an appropri- ately sized graft. If the donor site is hairy, it is shaved before the graft is harvested. Any preparation solution remaining on the sure [see Figure 3a]. An incision is made around the outline with a donor site is cleaned off, and mineral oil (or, as some surgeons pre- No. 10 or 15 blade. The edges of the graft are elevated with skin fer, water) is applied to lubricate the skin. hooks. Meticulous dissection is performed in such a way that as lit- Next, the dermatome is prepared by inserting the blade and tle subcutaneous tissue as possible is included with the graft [see securing it by tightening the screws [see Figure 4b].The graft thick- Figure 3b]. Once the graft is harvested, any subcutaneous tissue is ness is determined by the calibration gauge, which, for most split- sharply removed (a step known as defatting the graft).The graft is thickness grafts, is typically set at 14 (a setting equivalent to 0.014 then wrapped in a saline-soaked sponge until ready for use. in., or approximately 0.356 mm). As another method of setting the The graft is properly positioned and secured with absorbable desired thickness, the edge of most No. 15 scalpels should just fit sutures [see Figure 3c]. A tie-over bolster dressing is applied—typ- into the space created between the dermatome device and the a b Figure 3 Skin grafts: full thickness. (a) A retroauricular full-thickness skin graft is outlined; conversion to an elliptical c d shape may facilitate closure. (b) The graft is elevated with skin hooks, with care taken to include as little subcuta- neous tissue as possible. (c) The graft is sutured in place. (d) A tie-over bolster dressing is applied to maintain pressure on the graft and ensure good contact between it and the recipient bed.
  4. 4. © 2006 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved. ACS Surgery: Principles and Practice 3 BREAST, SKIN, AND SOFT TISSUE 7 Surface Reconstruction Procedures — 4 a b c d Figure 4 Skin grafts: split thickness. (a) Shown is a cheek defect after excision of a melanoma in situ. (b) A dermatome is used to harvest the graft. It is set to obtain a specific thickness of skin; 0.014 in. (0.356 mm) is a common setting. (c) The graft is harvested by applying steady pressure to the skin with the dermatome while advancing it forward. The assis- tant retracts the skin to optimize contact between blade and skin. (d) The skin is gently removed from the dermatome. If necessary, it can be meshed to increase its size. blade.The skin surface is smoothed with gentle but steady traction to be meshed is placed with the dermis side up on the grooved side to facilitate the harvest. Using an assistant to apply traction on the of the meshing board. The meshing board is rolled through the skin in all directions is very helpful [see Figure 4c].The dermatome mesher, and the meshed graft is ready for final placement over the is turned on and placed so that it engages the skin at a slight angle recipient site. [see Figure 4d]. It is then slowly advanced until an adequate The skin graft is secured to the recipient bed either with amount of skin is harvested. Once harvested, the graft can be absorbable suture material or with staples [see Figure 5a]. A bolster applied to the recipient area either with or without meshing. dressing, made of Xeroform and of cotton soaked in saline or min- Meshing a skin graft can be advantageous, first, because it eral oil, is applied over the graft.The bolster is fixed in place either allows a smaller graft to cover a larger area, and second, because it by tying sutures over it (for broad, flat areas such as the trunk or provides interstices through which fluid can drain in exudative the face) [see Figure 5b] or by wrapping gauze or an elastic bandage environments. Meshed grafts generally take longer to heal than (or both) around it (for curved areas such as the extremities). nonmeshed grafts do because the interstices must contract and fill Alternatively, a vacuum-assisted closure device (e.g., VAC; Abdo- with scar tissue; in addition, meshed grafts often heal with a cob- minal Dressing System; Kinetic Concepts, Inc., San Antonio,Texas) blestone appearance. There are two basic types of graft meshers, can be placed over a graft covered with Xeroform or a similar non- those that contain grooved meshing boards and those that do not. stick gauze.3 Such a device is particularly helpful when the wound Expansion ratios range from 1.5:1 to 3:1. The desired ratio is bed has an irregular surface, which can result in tenting of the graft selected by choosing either the appropriate meshing board or the and consequent graft loss. Although some clinical studies have appropriate cutting blade, depending on the type of mesher used. found vacuum-assisted closure to be superior to conventional bol- In most circumstances, an expansion ratio of 1.5:1, which increas- sters, this method does have disadvantages, including higher cost, es surface area by 50%, is sufficient. On rare occasions, an expan- greater complexity, and immobility resulting from attachment to sion ratio of 3:1 is needed, depending on the availability of donor the device. With a graft on an extremity, splinting may be neces- sites in relation to the requirements of the recipient area.The graft sary for immobilization. The donor site is then dressed with an
  5. 5. © 2006 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved. ACS Surgery: Principles and Practice 3 BREAST, SKIN, AND SOFT TISSUE 7 Surface Reconstruction Procedures — 5 a b c Figure 5 Skin grafts: split thickness. (a) The skin graft is sutured in place. Care is taken to trim all excess skin and to ensure that the graft is in complete contact with the bed. (b) A tie-over bolster dressing is applied. (c) The donor site is dressed. In this case, calcium sodium alginate is applied to the bed, followed by a bio-occlusive dressing. The dress- ing is left intact until reepithelialization occurs (typically, 7 to 10 days). Nonmeshed grafts may form a hematoma or seroma that will prevent the graft from taking. Accumulated fluid should be evac- uated by puncturing the graft or by rolling cotton-tipped swabs over it until the fluid escapes from under its edges. Survival of the entire graft is possible if fluid is meticulously evacuated within the first few days after graft placement; plasmic imbibition will keep the graft viable over this period. Meshed grafts are not subject to the problem of fluid accumu- occlusive dressing (e.g., OpSite; Smith & Nephew, Hull, United lation, nor are they as vulnerable as nonmeshed grafts to the shear Kingdom) or a semiocclusive dressing (e.g., Xeroform) until reep- forces that can prevent graft survival. For meshed grafts, the post- ithelialization occurs [see Figure 5c]. operative goal is to prevent desiccation, because they are more exposed to the environment. After the initial dressing change, POSTOPERATIVE CARE gauze dressings (e.g., Xeroform) should be placed over the graft The postoperative fate of a skin graft is largely determined by and changed once a day. After 2 weeks, the dressings can be dis- the circumstances of the wound (especially the presence or ab- continued, but the graft should be kept well lubricated with either sence of infection) and the technical execution of the grafting pro- a skin cream or cocoa butter. cedure.4 Successful healing of skin grafts requires immobilization Meshed grafts that are placed over wounds at high risk for infec- of the recipient site for 5 to 7 days. Immobilization can be accom- tion may be managed postoperatively with wet dressings changed plished with tie-over bolsters; on extremities, skin grafts can be fur- three times a day.The dressing changes will not interfere with graft ther immobilized with plaster casts. Proper immobilization is crit- take and will maximize graft survival in the face of heavy bacteri- ical for graft survival because it prevents shearing in the plane al contamination. between the graft and the wound bed. After 5 to 7 days of immo- Extremities that are recipient sites for skin grafts should always bilization, the graft is inspected, and either a gauze dressing (e.g., be maintained above heart level for a minimum of 1 week postop- Xeroform) or a lubricating antibiotic ointment is applied for eratively. Lower extremities with skin grafts should remain elevat- another 5 to 7 days. Because grafted skin lacks oil glands, a non- ed for a minimum of 10 days to 2 weeks, particularly when the irritating moisturizer should then be applied to the graft for sever- graft is below the knee. Patients should also be mobilized in a pro- al months thereafter, until the graft is capable of maintaining a gressive manner, beginning with brief periods of limb dangling. more normal level of skin moisture without the moisturizer. Premature ambulation of patients with lower-extremity skin grafts Grafts that are treated by closed methods (i.e., tie-over bolsters) can result in loss of the skin graft despite an early appearance of are carefully observed for evidence of infection. Developing ery- complete graft take. thema or suppuration is an indication for immediate removal of Donor sites of split-thickness grafts heal by epithelialization. the bolster dressing and inspection of the graft. On infrequent They are best managed by coverage with a gas-permeable poly- occasions, a graft may be threatened by infection; in such cases, urethane film dressing (e.g., OpSite).This dressing retains moisture the graft may be saved by switching to an open method of graft underneath, which favors rapid reepithelialization. It is also imper- care with wet dressings changed three or four times a day. meable to bacteria.The addition of calcium sodium alginate under
  6. 6. © 2006 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved. ACS Surgery: Principles and Practice 3 BREAST, SKIN, AND SOFT TISSUE 7 Surface Reconstruction Procedures — 6 RANDOM PATTERN AXIAL PATTERN MYOCUTANEOUS Figure 6 Local flaps. A random-pattern skin flap (left) is supplied by a subdermal plexus of small vessels that do not have an axial orientation. An axial-pattern skin flap (center) is designed parallel to the axis of a known major subcutaneous artery. It can have a greater length:width ratio because its blood supply is more reliable. A myocutaneous flap (right) derives the blood supply of its skin component from vertical perfora- tors from the underlying muscle. The skin can be completely isolated over the muscle as an island. the OpSite facilitates the absorption of the fluid that tends to col- blood supply to a given graft allows so-called islanding of the graft lect there, thus further simplifying donor site management.5 from the donor site except for the vascular connection, which is preserved. Such island flaps have greater mobility than flaps with a less attenuated attachment to the donor site. Local Flaps A third type of flap was based on the myocutaneous blood sup- ply, a network of vessels that perforate muscles vertically and sup- CLASSIFICATION ply the overlying skin [see Figures 7c, d].These vessels are not nec- Flaps are classified according to the types of tissue that they essarily the exclusive supply to the skin in a specific region, but contain, their blood supply [see Figure 6], and the method by they are able to support the skin entirely when other sources of which they are moved from the donor to the recipient site. blood supply are eliminated. Investigation of the body muscula- ture showed that there were at least five basic patterns of blood Tissue Contents supply to muscle, distinguished by the existence of and balance Flaps commonly consist of skin and subcutaneous tissue alone. between primary pedicles and secondary sources of blood supply However, they may also consist of skin combined with muscle, fas- [see Figure 8]. Some muscles can be rotated or transposed as cia, or bone; in these cases, the flaps are called myocutaneous, fas- myocutaneous flaps on the basis of either their dominant or their ciocutaneous, or osteocutaneous, respectively. If a flap composed secondary blood supply (e.g., the pectoralis major and the latis- of skin and subcutaneous tissue that contains a known major simus dorsi). Some muscles have two dominant supplies and can artery (an axial-pattern, or arterialized, skin flap [see Blood Supply, be transposed on either one (e.g., the rectus abdominis). Other below]) is raised at the donor site and remains attached only by the muscles do not reliably support skin territories supplied by minor vascular pedicle, it is termed an island flap. The same flap is pedicles (e.g., the gracilis). termed a free flap if the vascular pedicle is severed, the flap is trans- Other patterns of cutaneous blood supply are now well recog- ferred to a distant recipient site, and its circulation is restored by nized. Fasciocutaneous flaps with high length:width ratios can be microvascular anastomoses. reliably raised on the trunk, arms, and legs. The blood supply of deep fascia appears to consist of both a deep and a superficial fas- Blood Supply cial plexus. These vessels connect both to perforating vessels from The earliest flaps in common use were skin flaps that had what the underlying muscles and to the subcutaneous tissue vessels is known as a random-pattern type of circulation [see Figure 7a], in above them.9 At least three types of fasciocutaneous flaps may be which blood is supplied by the subdermal capillary plexus rather distinguished on the basis of the fascial blood supply to the skin [see than by a named vessel.6 The precarious nature of the blood sup- Figure 9].10 ply of such flaps severely limited flap design and resulted in a pre- In some areas, fascia supplies overlying subcutaneous tissue and occupation with suitable length:width ratios. Greater length:width skin more directly. Such a blood supply is most evident in the ratios became possible after the empirical discovery that a more extremities, where direct branches from major vessels course vigorous circulation develops in flaps raised in stages (the delay through intermuscular septa to reach the deep fascia and supply phenomenon).7 the overlying skin and subcutaneous tissue. The forearm is a clin- The next flaps to come into common use had an axial-pattern ically important donor site because thin septocutaneous flaps fed type of circulation, in which a sizable artery coursed directly to a by the radial artery can be raised as either pedicled or free flaps. specific cutaneous territory [see Figure 7b]. The groin was the first Other examples of fasciocutaneous flaps include the lateral arm region where this arrangement was carefully described, and it septocutaneous flap, fed by the profunda brachii artery; the scapu- remains a useful source of flaps for selected applications. Because lar flap, fed by the circumflex scapular artery [see Figure 7d]; the longer flaps can be made in areas where the blood supply has an fibular osteofasciocutaneous flap, fed by the peroneal artery; and axial pattern, the length:width ratio and the delay phenomenon the anterolateral thigh flap, fed by the descending branch of the became less important issues.8 Identification of an axial-pattern lateral circumflex femoral artery.
  7. 7. © 2006 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved. ACS Surgery: Principles and Practice 3 BREAST, SKIN, AND SOFT TISSUE 7 Surface Reconstruction Procedures — 7 Method of Movement to Recipient Site in less edema in the flap and, therefore, less circulatory compro- Local flaps may be called either rotation, advancement, or trans- mise. Hemostasis is essential; in small flap procedures, bipolar position flaps, depending on how they are moved to reach their coagulation controls bleeding with minimal damage to the flap’s recipient sites. blood supply.Two-layer closure is recommended, with absorbable A more complete characterization of flaps is achieved by com- suture material in the deeper layer to decrease the tension and fine bining all of the descriptive categories mentioned. For example, a nylon for skin closure. muscle and skin flap that is rotated to cover an adjacent soft tissue The recommendations just mentioned apply to local flap pro- defect is termed a myocutaneous rotation flap, and a skin and cedures in general. In what follows, we describe several different bone flap used to reconstruct a distant composite defect is termed types of local flaps that are useful for the purposes of the general an osteocutaneous free flap. surgeon, and we summarize key technical points specific to each. OPERATIVE TECHNIQUE Transposition Flaps In all forms of plastic surgery, it is essential to cause as little tis- A flap that is moved laterally into the primary defect is called a sue trauma as possible when raising a flap. Using skin hooks rather transposition flap.The essential concept in the design of such a flap than forceps is helpful in this regard. The flap is marked and is to ensure that the flap is long enough to cover the entire defect, incised, and elevation is begun, first with a scalpel and then, at the so that the transfer can be done without tension [see Figure 10]. base of the flap, with a blunt scissors to prevent injury to the blood The skin is marked and incised with a scalpel, and dissection is supply.The electrocautery should be used judiciously in the eleva- carried through the subcutaneous fat. The flap is retracted with a tion of skin flaps: although cauterization causes less bleeding, skin skin hook, and dissection is performed with a blunt scissors until flaps often rely on the subdermal plexus for perfusion, and this the flap is elevated sufficiently to allow it to be transposed into the plexus can be damaged by electrocautery dissection. Close atten- defect without tension. The secondary defect is closed primarily; tion to atraumatic technique throughout the procedure will result alternatively, depending on the location of the donor area and the a b c d Figure 7 Local flaps. (a) The blood supply of random-pattern skin flaps is limited; only small flaps (e.g., thenar flaps, shown here), are consistently reliable. (b) Shown is an axial-pattern skin flap. (c) The skin and subcutaneous tissue of a myocutaneous flap can exist as a complete island because the blood supply is derived from vertical mus- cular perforators. (d) Shown are a large free flap of scapular area skin and the entire latissimus dorsi. The sub- scapular vessels that connect the two will supply both components of the flap after microvascular anastomoses.
  8. 8. © 2006 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved. ACS Surgery: Principles and Practice 3 BREAST, SKIN, AND SOFT TISSUE 7 Surface Reconstruction Procedures — 8 TYPE I TYPE II TYPE III TYPE IV TYPE V Tensor Fasciae Latae Gracilis Rectus Abdominis External Oblique Latissimus Dorsi Figure 8 Local flaps. Schematized are the five basic patterns of blood supply to muscle. Individual muscles are clas- sified on the basis of the dominance, number, and size of the vessels that supply them. Type I is supplied by a single dominant pedicle. Type II is supplied by one dominant vessel and several much smaller vessels. Type III is supplied by two dominant pedicles. Type IV is supplied by multiple vessels of similar size. Type V is supplied by one dominant pedicle and several smaller segmental vascular pedicles. degree of skin tension present there, a skin graft may be indicated. pedicle [see Figure 11]. It is often used to correct nasal defects As with any local flap, wide undermining of the surrounding tis- involving the lateral aspect, the ala, or the tip. The keys to a suc- sues may be necessary for closure of the defect and the donor site. cessful bilobed flap are (1) accurate design and (2) wide under- Closure is then performed in two layers. mining of the surrounding tissue in the submuscular plane to allow a smooth transposition. The primary lobe is usually at an Bilobed flap A bilobed flap is a transposition flap consisting angle of 45º or less to the defect; the secondary lobe is designed to of two lobes of skin and subcutaneous tissue based on a common achieve closure of the donor defect and is substantially smaller TYPE A TYPE B TYPE C Figure 9 Local flaps. At least three types of fasciocutaneous flaps exist, categorized by blood supply configuration. Type A is supplied by multiple small, longitudinal vessels coursing with the deep fascia. These flaps must retain a base of a certain width and cannot be raised as islands (e.g., longitudinally oriented flaps of skin and fascia on the lower leg). Type B is supplied by a single major vessel within the fascia (e.g., scapular flap). Type C is supplied by multiple perforating segments from a major vessel coursing through intermuscular septa (e.g., forearm flaps).
  9. 9. © 2006 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved. ACS Surgery: Principles and Practice 3 BREAST, SKIN, AND SOFT TISSUE 7 Surface Reconstruction Procedures — 9 Figure 10 Local flaps: transposition flap. After excision of the defect, a transposition flap of adequate length is designed and elevated in the subcutaneous plane. The flap is moved laterally into the defect and inset. It may be necessary to excise a dog-ear of excess skin at the tip of the flap harvest site. than the primary lobe. The angle between the two is 90º to 100º. elevated, it is transposed into the defect. Closure is done in two Both flaps are raised simultaneously in the submuscular plane. layers. Wide undermining of the area (also in the submuscular plane) Rhomboid flaps work best on flat surfaces (e.g., the upper minimizes tension. The primary lobe of the bilobed flap is trans- cheek, the temporal region, and the trunk). Extra attention to flap posed into the initial defect, the secondary lobe is transposed into design is necessary when an attempt is made to close a defect over the donor defect left by the primary lobe, and the defect left by the a convex surface with a rhomboid flap; improper flap design leads secondary lobe is closed primarily. Closure is accomplished with to excessive tension and potential flap necrosis. 5-0 or 6-0 nylon. Rotation Flaps Rhomboid flap (Limberg flap) A rhomboid flap is a A flap that is rotated into the defect is called a rotation flap.11,12 transposition flap that is designed in a specific geometric fashion This type of flap is commonly used to repair a defect on the scalp, [see Figure 12].The initial defect is converted to a rhomboid, with where large flaps must be designed to overcome the inelasticity of care taken to plan the flap in an area with minimal skin tension. scalp tissue. A rotation flap takes the form of a semicircle of which The rhomboid must be an equilateral parallelogram with angles the defect occupies a wedge-shaped segment [see Figure 13]. The of 60º and 120º; this design allows the surgeon to excise less tis- original defect is converted to a triangular shape (ABC). One side sue than would be needed for an elliptical flap. One face of the of the triangular defect (AC) is extended to a point (D) that will rhomboid constitutes the first side of the flap (YZ). The short serve as the pivot point for the flap. The distance between A and diagonal of the rhomboid is then extended outward for a distance D should be at least 50% greater than that between A and C. A equal to its own length. This extension should be oriented along semicircular line extending from C to D is then defined. relaxed skin tension lines, perpendicular to the line of maximum The flap is incised with a scalpel, elevated, and rotated. As with extensibility; it constitutes the second side of the flap (XY). Next, all local skin flaps, wide undermining of the surrounding tissue a line parallel and equal in length to YZ is drawn from X to out- may be necessary to allow tension-free rotation and wound clo- line the third side of the flap. Correct orientation of the rhomboid sure. The flap is secured with a two-layer closure; the secondary is vital for achieving flap repair with minimal tension, particular- defect may be closed primarily. Sometimes, a so-called back cut is ly with respect to the line of maximum extensibility: it is along required to gain adequate rotation. The most common technical this base line that maximum tension results when the donor error with rotation flaps is improper design: a flap that is too small defect is closed. Once the flap has been correctly designed and will not cover the defect adequately. Figure 11 Local flaps: bilobed flap. A flap with two lobes is created, with the first lobe the same size as the defect and the second lobe substantially (~50%) smaller than the first. The flap is elevated in the submuscular plane. Wide undermining at this level is necessary for tension-free transposition. The first lobe covers the initial defect, and the second covers the defect from the first. The second lobe is placed in an area of loose skin, and its area of origin is closed primarily.
  10. 10. © 2006 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved. ACS Surgery: Principles and Practice 3 BREAST, SKIN, AND SOFT TISSUE 7 Surface Reconstruction Procedures — 10 a b c Figure 12 Local flaps: rhomboid X (Limberg) flap. (a) The defect is RSTL converted to a rhomboid, with all LME four sides of equal length and angles of 60º and 120º. An exten- Y Z sion XY is made that is the same Z Z length as the short diagonal of the rhomboid, and a line of equal length is drawn from X parallel- X Y ing YZ. (b) The flap is oriented so 60° 120° that XY follows the relaxed skin tension lines (RSTL) and YZ the X Y line of maximum extensibility (LME). (c) The flap is inset. Advancement Flaps performed, some excess skin (dog-ears) at the base of the flap Advancement flaps are moved directly forward into a defect (Burow’s triangles) may have to be excised. without either rotation or lateral movement. The single-pedicle advancement flap is a rectangular or square flap of skin and sub- V-Y advancement flap The V-Y advancement flap is a mod- cutaneous tissue that is stretched forward.The flap is oriented with ification of a basic advancement flap [see Figure 15]. The use of a respect to the local skin tension, with care taken to plan the V-Y advancement flap eliminates the need to revise the dog-ears advancement in an area where the skin is extensible. A rectangu- that sometimes result with rotation flaps. When possible, the flap lar defect is created, and the flap is elevated in an area of loose skin should be oriented in accordance with the line of maximum exten- and advanced to cover the defect [see Figure 14]. When closure is sibility. Its length should be 1.5 to 2 times that of the defect in the direction of the closure. Incisions are made completely through skin. As with other flaps, a skin hooks are used to retract the skin flap, and blunt scissors dis- section is then performed.The point of the V on the flap is the area where tightness is most frequently encountered; this area may have to be released to facilitate advancement. Care must be taken not to undermine the advancing flap excessively: doing so may impair or interrupt the blood supply to the flap and result in necrosis. A C Once adequately advanced, the flap is sutured at the advancing D edge and at the base of the Y. Z-Plasty b When reconstruction is indicated for small, localized scars, soft tissue coverage is generally sufficient. With such coverage, there is no threat of breakdown leading to exposure of important struc- tures; instead, the reconstructive problem is generally functional. An example is a flexion crease contracture, which is commonly seen after a burn injury. A local procedure that rearranges the c existing tissue can relieve the tension by making more tissue avail- able in one direction, even though the amount of tissue in the area is not actually increased. The Z-plasty [see Figure 16] is an example of such tissue rearrangement.13 Two triangular flaps are designed so that they have in common a central limb aligned in the direction along which additional length is desired. For example, the limb may be placed along the line of a contracture. Two lines, approximately equal in d length to the central limb, are drawn from either end of the limb, diverging from it at equal angles varying from 30º to 90º. The degree of lengthening obtained is determined by the size of this angle [see Table 2]. In theory, maximal length gain is achieved by using the largest angle possible, but in practice, the maximum usable angle is determined by the limits of skin elasticity. A 60º angle, which is commonly used, will result in a 75% gain in length Figure 13 Local flaps: rotation flap. (a) The defect is converted along the central limb.Triangular flaps are elevated, and the fibrous into a wedge. One side (AC) is extended to a pivot point D, so that AD is at least 50% longer than AC. A semicircle from C to D is tissue band responsible for the contracture is divided.The triangu- defined. (b) The flap is elevated, rotated, and inset. (c, d) If there is lar flaps are transposed and inset, yielding increased length in the too much tension, a back cut may be necessary to release the flap desired direction, with the original Z rotated 90º and reversed. and allow rotation. Care is taken not to make the back cut exces- Although Z-plasty is conceptually simple, it is not necessarily sively long; to do so could devascularize the flap. easy: experience is necessary for the surgeon to realize the limita-
  11. 11. © 2006 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved. ACS Surgery: Principles and Practice 3 BREAST, SKIN, AND SOFT TISSUE 7 Surface Reconstruction Procedures — 11 tions of technique and appreciate the subtleties of proper design. a b Important considerations in the use of Z-plasty include appropri- ate determination of the length of the central limb and correct ori- entation of the limbs so that the new central limb formed after transposition is parallel to skin tension lines. Multiple Z-plasties may be useful for some localized scars. POSTOPERATIVE CARE Local Flaps The postoperative care of local flaps is not complex. Flap heal- ing is supported by adequate nutrition and maintenance of a nor- mal hemodynamic state, including normal blood volume. Tension must not be placed on the flap.Tension can develop in flaps on the trunk as a result of changes in patient position or in flaps on the limbs as a result of loss of immobilization. Generally, the tip of any local flap is not only its most valuable portion but also its most vul- Figure 15 Local flaps: V-Y advancement flap. (a) A V-shaped flap is created whose length is 1.5 to 2 times that of the defect. With nerable area. At the tip, the blood supply is the most precarious, and subcutaneous connections to the skin preserved (because these the detrimental effects of tension are magnified. Unfortunately, no constitute the blood supply to the flap), the flap is advanced into pharmacologic agents are of proven benefit in preventing necrosis the defect. (b) The V incision is converted to a Y as the base is of a flap with failing circulation. Any flap necrosis that might devel- closed primarily. op should be minimized by preventing infection of the necrotic tis- sue. Necrotic tissue must therefore be debrided after the extent of tis- sue loss becomes clear. Portions of the flap that are undergoing de- marcation but do not appear actively infected can be protected by a b c the application of a topical antibiotic (e.g., silver sulfadiazine cream). Extremities that are recipient sites for flaps, like those that are recipient sites for skin grafts, should be immobilized and elevated A B A after the operation until satisfactory wound healing has occurred. B A Free Flaps Survival of free flaps, unlike that of local flaps, tends to be an all- B or-none phenomenon. Careful postoperative monitoring of flap circulation is essential because flap failure is likely to be the result of a problem at the vascular anastomoses. Flaps are usually moni- tored for 7 days. However, the most critical time for free-flap mon- itoring is the first 6 to 8 hours because the majority of vascular Figure 16 Local flaps: Z-plasty. (a) The central limb of the Z is crises usually occur within this period. Early detection and aggres- placed along the line of contracture. Incisions diverging from the scar at a 60° angle will yield an increase of approximately 75% in sive investigation of such crises generally allow a flap to be salvaged. the direction of the central limb. (b) The flaps are transposed. (c) Maintenance of normal blood volume, treatment of hypothermia, The length has been increased in the desired direction, and the and avoidance of pressors are particularly important in the early original Z design has been rotated 90° and reversed. a b postoperative period to prevent vascular spasm. Spasm causes flaps to appear pale and to exhibit a significant temperature drop. Free flaps exhibit venous engorgement when placed in a depen- dent position up to several weeks postoperatively. Such engorge- ment is generally not dangerous, though patients with free flaps below the knee should be gradually mobilized in the same fashion as patients with skin grafts in this location. These patients should also keep the lower extremity elevated for at least 10 to 14 days. Free flaps in the head and neck area require that the patient’s head motion be restricted somewhat for the first few days. It is important that electrocardiographic leads and tracheostomy tube ties not compress the external jugular vein if it was used as a recip- ient vessel for anastomosis. If central lines are used after operation, they should be placed on the contralateral side of the neck. Free flaps should be monitored on an hourly basis during the early postoperative period. Most free flaps include an exposed skin Figure 14 Local flaps: direct advancement flap. (a) A flap whose shape corresponds to that of the defect is elevated in the subcuta- island, which facilitates evaluation of the flap circulation. The flap neous plane and advanced into the defect. (b) Excision of Burow’s is observed for color and for capillary refill—the most important triangles (excess skin at the flap base) may be necessary to permit indicators of flap viability. A pale flap generally indicates arterial advancement. insufficiency; however, this is not always the case, because certain
  12. 12. © 2006 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved. ACS Surgery: Principles and Practice 3 BREAST, SKIN, AND SOFT TISSUE 7 Surface Reconstruction Procedures — 12 Table 2—Z-Plasty: Incision Angle lamp), cooling of one of the probes from an oxygen mist mask, or and Degree of Lengthening cleaning of the flap skin with alcohol (which results in a precipi- tous drop in skin temperature). Theoretically Possible To confirm the presence of an anastomotic problem, flap circu- lation is assessed directly by a full-thickness puncture of the flap Theoretical Amount of skin with a 20-, 22-, or 25-gauge needle. If flap circulation is Incision Angle (degrees) Lengthening (%) healthy, a drop of bright-red blood should appear at the puncture 30 25 site within a few seconds, and another drop should appear each time the previous drop is wiped away by an alcohol swab.The fail- 45 50 ure of blood to appear or the delayed appearance of a clear, serous 60 75 ooze instead of blood is an indication of arterial insufficiency. Vigorous, dark bleeding confirms a venous problem. Flaps that are 75 100 pale as a result of vascular spasm are difficult to assess because 90 120 their bleeding response to needle puncture is poor despite intact anastomoses. As a rule, clinical judgment of flap viability on the basis of all these methods of flap monitoring will be highly predic- donor sites, such as the abdomen, are relatively light in color under tive. If, however, some uncertainty exists, surgical exploration normal circumstances, which means that a flap from one of these should be undertaken because the entire flap may be in jeopardy. sites may appear pale while still having an adequate arterial sup- Free flaps without skin islands are more difficult to monitor accu- ply. Flaps with venous insufficiency are characteristically blue in rately. Muscle flaps can be followed in much the same way as skin color and exhibit rapid capillary refill. In such flaps, brisk capillary free flaps by inserting needle temperature probes directly into the refill often precedes the blue discoloration, and it is cause for con- muscle belly. A healthy muscle free flap is red in color and typically cern when observed. Bleeding from the edges of a flap is common has a serous ooze between the interstices of the overlying meshed in the presence of venous hypertension. skin graft. A flap with an arterial problem quickly becomes dry and If a skin island is exposed, Doppler ultrasonography should dark in appearance. A muscle flap with a venous problem becomes reveal the presence of a triphasic arterial pulse. The site of this dark and engorged with blood and exhibits bleeding from its surface pulse should be marked with a suture or with permanent ink to and perimeter. A muscle free flap can be punctured with a needle to facilitate monitoring by nursing staff. A trained ear can distinguish assess the quality of the bleeding if its circulatory status is unclear. between triphasic, biphasic, and monophasic pulses, which (in Fascial free flaps covered with skin grafts are more difficult to that order) indicate increasing degrees of arterial compromise assess. They tend to transmit body core temperature readily from arterial thrombosis or increasing venous hypertension. because they are quite thin; therefore, needle temperature probes Surface temperature probes can be used to monitor free flaps are generally unreliable. It is often possible in these cases either to that have a skin island.The advantages of this method are simplic- observe the arterial pulsations in the flap directly or to monitor ity and reliability. One probe is placed on the flap and another on them with a conventional Doppler device. a nearby area to serve as a control.The flap surface temperature is Some free flaps are completely buried beneath the skin. Others, generally about 1.0° to 2.5° C lower than the control temperature. such as intraoral skin free flaps, are equally difficult to monitor A progressive widening of this temperature difference is ominous postoperatively. Specialized transplants (e.g., jejunal transplants) and calls for critical assessment of the flap circulation. The ab- are particularly vulnerable to short periods of anoxia and are not solute temperature of the flap probe is also significant: a flap tem- likely to be salvageable by the time a problem is recognized. perature higher than 32° C indicates healthy circulation, whereas Alternative methods of monitoring buried free flaps are being a temperature between 30° and 32° C indicates marginal circula- developed and are being used with increasing frequency. One tion and a temperature lower than 30° C often indicates a vascu- example is the implantable Doppler monitor.This device is placed lar problem. In a healthy flap, temperature fluctuations may be in direct contact with the artery or vein distal to the anastomosis caused by a dislodged probe, an exogenous heat source (e.g., a to obtain a continuous Doppler signal.14 References 1. Weinzweig N, Weinzweig J: Basic principles and 6. Daniel RK, Kerrigan CL: Skin flaps: an anatomical 12. Worthen EF: Scalp flaps and the rotation forehead techniques in plastic surgery. Mastery of Plastic and and hemodynamic approach. Clin Plast Surg 6:181, flap. Grabb’s Encyclopedia of Flaps, Vol 1. Strauch Reconstructive Surgery, Vol 1. Choen M, Ed. Little, 1979 B, Vasconez LO, Hall-Findlay EJ, Eds. Lippincott- Brown, and Co, Boston, 1994 7. Cederna PS, Chang P, Pittet-Cuenod BM, et al:The Raven Publishers, Philadelphia, 1998 2. Borges AF: Elective Incisions and Scar Revision. effect of the delay phenomenon on the vascularity of 13. McGregor IA, McGregor AD: The z-plasty. Little, Brown, and Co, Boston, 1973 rabbit abdominal cutaneous island flaps. Plast Fundamental Techniques of Plastic Surgery. Reconstr Surg 99:183, 1997 Churchill Livingstone, Edinburgh, 1995 3. Schneider AM, Morkywas MJ, Argenta LC: A new and reliable method of securing skin grafts to the dif- 8. Milton SH: Pedicled skin-flaps: the fallacy of the 14. Kind GM, Buntic RF, Buncke GM, et al: The effect ficult recipient bed. Plast Reconstr Surg 102:1195, length:width ratio. Br J Surg 57:502, 1970 of an implantable Doppler probe on the salvage of 1998 9. Lamberty BG, Cormack GC: Fasciocutaneous microvascular tissue transplants. Plast Reconstr Surg flaps. Clin Plast Surg 17:713, 1990 101:1268, 1998 4. Smahel J: The healing of skin grafts. Clin Plast Surg 4:409, 1977 10. Cormack GC, Lamberty BG: Arterial Anatomy of Skin Flaps. Churchill Livingstone, Edinburgh, 1987 5. Disa JJ, Alizadeh K, Smith JW, et al: Evaluation of a Acknowledgments combined sodium alginate and bioocclusive mem- 11. Jackson IT: Local rotational flaps. Operative Plastic brane dressing in the management of split thickness Surgery. Evans GRD, Ed. McGraw-Hill, New York, Figures 1 through 3, 10, 12 through 15 Tom Moore. skin graft donor sites. Ann Plast Surg 46:405, 2001 2000 Figures 6, 8, 9, 11, 16 Carol Donner.

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