[Forearm free arterialized venous flap in repairing soft tissue defect of hand]

Zheng Li, Shaoxiao Yu, Zehua Chen, Yuhai Ke, Wanggao Zhou, Yi Xiong, Keming Zhong, Zhenwei Zhang
Chinese Journal of Reparative and Reconstructive Surgery 2014, 28 (3): 362-5

OBJECTIVE: To observe the effectiveness of the forearm free arterialized venous flap in repairing soft tissue defect of the hand.

METHODS: Between December 2008 and January 2013, 49 cases of soft tissue defects of the hand were treated. There were 39 males and 10 females, aged 16-52 years (mean, 34 years). Defect was caused by crush injury in 34 cases, cutting injury in 7 cases, avulsion injury in 5 cases, and hot crush injury in 3 cases. The locations were index finger in 21 cases, middle finger in 14 cases, ring finger in 10 cases, little finger in 1 case, and the first web space and the dorsal palm in 3 cases. The duration of injury and admission was 2-10 hours (mean, 4.5 hours). The size of defects ranged from 2.5 cm x 1.5 cm to 6.0 cm x 4.5 cm. Of them, 46 cases had fracture of metacarpal or finger bone and/or injury of tendon and nerve. Emergency operation was performed in 43 cases and selective operation in 6 cases. All defects were repaired by free arterialized venous flap from the ipsilateral forearm, in which the proximal ends of veins were anastomosed to artery and vein of the finger. The flap size ranged from 3.5 cm x 2.5 cm to 7.5 cm x 5.3 cm. The donor site was directly sutured.

RESULTS: Seven flaps survived which was similar to physiological free flap. Mild or medium swelling and blister were observed in 39 flaps and heavy swelling and partial necrosis occurred in 3 flaps after operation. The patients were followed up 6 months-2 years (mean, 13.5 months). The flaps had soft texture, slightly bulky appearance, and deeper color than normal skin. At last follow-up, the two-point discrimination was 16-22 mm (mean, 20 mm). According to the standard for functional evaluation issued by Hand Surgery Association of Chinese Medical Association, the results were excellent in 21 cases, good in 21 cases, fair in 3 cases, and poor in 4 cases.

CONCLUSION: It is an ideal method to repair soft tissue defect of the hand to use forearm free arterialized venous flap. It has the advantages of massive area, no major blood vessel needed to be sacrificed, safe and easy operation, and satisfactory appearance.

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