J Reconstr Microsurg 2001; 17(5): 335-340
DOI: 10.1055/s-2001-16025

Copyright © 2001 by Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc., 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA. Tel.: +1(212) 584-4662

Use of a Mechanical Leech in a Reverse-Flow Radial Forearm Flap: Case Report

Giorgio C. La Scala, Sean M. Carroll, Christopher R. Forrest, Ronald M. Zuker
  • Division of Plastic Surgery, Department of Surgery, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
31 December 2001 (online)


The reverse-flow radial forearm flap provides excellent coverage for distal upper-limb defects. It is simply raised and does not require microsurgical skills. However, since its vascular pedicle is reversed, its venous outflow can be significantly diminished because of the venous valves. The authors present the case of a 16-year-old patient with a sagittal amputation of the radial aspect of the right thumb, who manifested at the time of surgery marked venous engorgement of a reverse-flow radial forearm flap. This was successfully relieved by the placement of a mechanical leech consisting of a Silastic rubber catheter-of the kind used to gain central vascular access in newborns-introduced in the lumen of the reversed vein at the extremity of the flap. This permitted intermittent evacuation of blood from the flap postoperatively, contributing to the success of this procedure. The technique used is detailed and pertinent literature is reviewed.


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