The purpose of this paper is to review the results of free latissimus dorsi transfer for scalp and cranial reconstruction in the case of large defects with exposed brain tissue, cranial bone without periosteal cover, and dura, which cannot be reconstructed with local flaps or skin grafts. Free latissimus dorsi transfer was carried out in seven patients with subtotal and total scalp defects (two reconstruction after tumor removal, two reconstructions after long-standing osteitis, two tissue breakdown after irradiation, one defect reconstruction after high voltage injury). There were three male and four female patients. The age ranged from 36 to 72 years. Reconstruction was performed with a muscle flap (1) or a myocutaneous flap (6) in combination with a split-thickness skin mesh (1:1.5) graft in a single-stage procedure. In a retrospective clinical study, the following criteria were evaluated: (1) flap healing, (2) aesthetic result, and (3) complications. All flaps healed primarily, and all wounds remained closed without any signs of infection. Complete wound healing was achieved after 4 to 8 weeks, depending on the “take” of the skin grafts. Secondary skin grafting was necessary in two patients, while revision of the donor site was necessary in two patients. From an aesthetic point of view, four patients complained about the appearance of the retroauricular skin island. After removal of the skin island 6 months after the initial operation, all patients judged the result as good or acceptable. Besides the free omentum flap, the free latissimus dorsi transfer is the only option for cover of subtotal or total scalp defects. Compared to the omentum flap, the latissimus dorsi offers more tissue, has less donor site morbidity, and secondary surgery such as cranial bone reconstruction is possible. Contrary to most authors, our preferred donor vessels are maxillary artery and the external jugular vein. To avoid any vascular compression, we use a myocutaneous flap. The skin island must be removed secondarily. In patients where no bone reconstruction is possible or planned, the de-epithelialized skin paddle can be used for correction of a contour defect.
European Journal of Plastic Surgery – Springer Journals
Published: Dec 1, 2006
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