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Composite Free Tissue Transfer for Reconstruction of Lower Extremity Tendon Injuries: A Systematic ReviewFunding None.
Background Tendon rupture with extensive soft tissue loss has few reconstructive options. Composite free tissue transfers including skin and tendon offer an attractive reconstructive approach. Unfortunately, most studies discussing them come from sparse case reports. We systematically assess evidence supporting composite flap use in single-stage reconstruction of lower extremity tendon and soft tissue defects.
Methods A systematic review was performed in accordance with Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. OvidMEDLINEqueried for records pertaining to the study question using Medical Subject Heading (MeSH) terms such as “lower extremity,” “tendon,” and “composite flap.” No limitations were placed on the year of publication, country of origin, or study size. Study characteristics and patient demographics were collected. Primary outcomes included:(1) defect location, composite flap characteristics;(2) return to ambulation;(3) joint range of motion;(4) patient satisfaction, and (5) complications.
Results In total, 29 articles examining 173 patients with lower extremity tendon defects and soft tissue loss were identified. Average age was 44.3 years (SD 17.5); most patients were male (n = 110, 66.3%). Achilles defect was mostly reported (n = 151, 86.8%), followed by patellar (n = 17, 9.8%) and other tendon defects (n = 6, 3.4%). Average tendon defect size was 8.4 cm (SD 4.0), average soft tissue loss was 80.2 cm2 (SD 40.0). Most employed composite flap was anterolateral thigh and fascia lata (ALT + FL) (n = 101, 58.0%). Most patients (n = 134, 99.3%) returned to ambulation in an average 123.1 days (SD 78.3). Average reconstructive joint degree of motion was 62.1 degrees compared with normal degree of motion 62.3 degrees. Patient-reported outcomes demonstrated increased satisfaction after reconstruction.
Conclusion Composite flaps effectively reconstruct a variety of tendon and soft tissue defects; the most reported flap is ALT + FL, which provides large flap territories and rapid healing in Achilles, patellar, and other tendon defects. In this review, patients with composite flaps demonstrated return to ambulation, minimal impairment in range of motion, and notable postoperative satisfaction.
Keywordsfree flaps - free tissue transfer - tendon reconstruction - anterior lateral thigh - composite flap
Received: 20 August 2021
Accepted: 30 January 2022
Article published online:
23 June 2022
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