Reconstruction of composite tibial defect with free flaps and ipsilateral vascularized fibular transposition

Duke Whan Chung, Chung Soo Han, Jae Hoon Lee
Microsurgery 2011, 31 (5): 340-6
Composite defects of the tibia following open fractures are among the most challenging of clinical problems. The aim of this study is to report the results of treatment using a free flap procedure followed by ipsilateral vascularized fibular transposition (IVFT) for reconstruction of composite tibial defects. Ten patients underwent a free flap procedure followed by IVFT and plating. The mean size of the flaps was 12.1 × 6 cm(2). The mean length of bone defect was 5.35 cm. IVFT were performed 4.3 months following the free flap. Patients were followed for an average of 3.4 years. All flaps survived. The average time to union of the proximal and distal ends was 5.2 and 6.7 months, respectively. There were neither stress fractures of the transferred fibula nor recurrent infections. One patient demonstrated a medial angulation of 8° in the reconstructed tibia but experienced no difficulties in activities of daily living. At the last follow-up time point, all patients were able to walk without an assist device and were satisfied with the preservation of the injured lower extremity. Free flap procedures followed by IVFT for the treatment of composite tibial defects may reduce complications at the recipient site and infections, such as osteomyelitis. The plating technique combined with IVFT allowed bone union without additional operations or stress fractures in our series. We suggest that staged free flap and IVFT is useful for the treatment of composite segmental tibial defects.

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