Early free flap coverage in lower extremity trauma is a practice largely supported by research that may be outdated and is frequently impractical due to logistics, resuscitation efforts, and associated injuries. Our objective was to re‐evaluate this paradigm to determine whether reconstructive timing impacts outcome in modern clinical practice. We reviewed 60 free flaps for traumatic lower extremity coverage from December 2005 to December 2010 by the plastic surgery service at an academic medical center. All reconstructions were >72‐hours from injury, spanning from 3 days to 2.2 years. The overall failure rate was 13.3% (8/60). Statistical analysis yielded no significant associations between reconstructive timing and flap failure or morbidity, although there was a trend toward fewer failures among latest reconstructions (>91 days) compared to within 30 days (P = 0.053). These findings support that delays may be safely utilized to allow patient and wound optimization without negatively impacting outcomes in free tissue transfer. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Microsurgery, 2013.
Microsurgery – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2013
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