The distally based lateral sural neuro-lesser saphenous veno-fasciocutaneous flap: anatomical basis and clinical applications

Chen Wang, Zhuyou Xiong, Jing Xu, Li Zhang, He Huang, Guangzao Li
Journal of Orthopaedics and Traumatology: Official Journal of the Italian Society of Orthopaedics and Traumatology 2014, 15 (3): 215-23

BACKGROUND: Soft tissue management around the lower third of the leg and foot presents a considerable challenge to the plastic surgeon. The aim of this research was to investigate the anatomical relationships of artery, nerve, vein and other adjacent structures in the posterolateral region of the calf, and our experience with using a distally based island flap pedicled with the lateral sural nerve and the lesser saphenous vein for soft tissue reconstruction of lower third of leg, foot, and ankle defects in 15 patients.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Five fresh cadavers (ten lower limbs) were infused with colored red latex. The origin of the nutrient vessel of the lesser saphenous vein and the lateral sural nerve was identified. Based on the anatomical studies, an island flap supplied by the vascular axis of the lesser saphenous vein and the lateral sural nerve was designed for clinical reparative applications in 15 cases.

RESULTS: The nutrient vessel of the lesser saphenous vein and the lateral sural nerve originates from the superficial sural artery, musculocutaneous perforators of the posterior tibial artery, and septocutaneous perforators of the peroneal artery in different segment of the calf. Meanwhile, these vessels have many sub-branches nourishing subcutaneous tissue and skin, form a favorable vascular chain around the nerve and the vein, and also communicate with vascular plexus of superficial and deep fascia. Among 15 flaps, 13 showed complete survival (86.66 %), while marginal flap necrosis occurred in one patient (6.67 %) and distal wound dehiscence in another (6.67 %). Their appearance and function were satisfactory, with feeling maintained in the heel and lateral side of the foot.

CONCLUSIONS: The distally based flap pedicled with the lateral sural nerve and lesser saphenous vein was a reliable source for repairing soft tissue defects in the lower leg and foot due to its advantages of infection control, high survival rate, and sufficient blood supply without the need to sacrifice a major blood vessel.

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