Success of free flap anastomoses performed within the zone of trauma in acute lower limb reconstruction.
Bendon CL., Giele HP.
Traditionally, in free flap cover of lower limb injuries, every attempt is made to perform anastomoses proximal to the zone of injury. We report on the success of anastomoses within the zone of trauma, at the level of the fracture, avoiding further dissection and exposure. The records of free flap reconstructions for fractures of the lower extremity at a tertiary trauma centre between 2004 and 2010 were retrospectively reviewed. A total of 48 lower limb fractures required free flap reconstruction, performed at 28 days post injury (0-275 days). Anastomoses were proximal (21), distal (5) or within the zone of trauma (22). There was no significant difference (p > 0.05) in return to theatre, revision of anastomosis or flap survival between groups. Of the 22 performed within the zone of injury, five returned to theatre but only two for revision of anastomosis and 20 (91%) of these flaps survived. Of the 48 free flaps, arterial anastomoses were end to end in 34 (71%) and end to side in 14 (30%). There was no significant difference (p > 0.05) in return to theatre, revision of anastomosis or flap survival between the end-to-end and end-to-side groups. There was a tendency for arterial anastomoses to be performed end to end outside the zone of trauma (23/26) compared to within the zone of trauma (11/22). Our data suggest that free flap anastomoses can be performed safely in the zone of trauma in lower limb injuries.