Free vascularized tissue transfer to preserve upper extremity amputation levels.
BACKGROUND: Free vascularized tissue transfer to preserve upper extremity amputation level is an uncommon procedure. The authors investigate the role of free tissue transfer in preserving both morphology and function of the amputated upper extremity, with the goal of facilitating prosthetic rehabilitation. METHODS: Thirteen patients who underwent microsurgical free tissue transfer to preserve upper extremity amputation level were reviewed retrospectively. These cases were selected from four centers: Duke University Medical Center (Durham, N.C.) University Hospital of Modena (Modena, Italy), Careggi University Hospital (Florence, Italy), and the University of Heidelberg (Heidelberg, Germany). Parameters that were evaluated included age, sex, cause of the defect, reconstructive procedure, structures to be salvaged, and functional outcome, among others. RESULTS: The cause of amputation was trauma in 92 percent of patients. Mean age was 32 years. In 31 percent of the cases, an emergency free fillet flap was used, and in the remaining 69 percent, a traditional free flap was performed. Structures/function to be preserved included pinch function to the hand, function of the elbow and shoulder joints, and skeletal length greater than 7 cm. Complications occurred in 38 percent of the cases, but the final goal of the procedure was achieved in all cases. A treatment algorithm for the management of the amputated upper extremity is presented. CONCLUSION: Use of free vascularized tissue transfer for preservation of upper extremity amputation level in well-selected cases facilitates prosthetic rehabilitation and improves residual limb function.
Baccarani, A; Follmar, KE; De Santis, G; Adani, R; Pinelli, M; Innocenti, M; Baumeister, S; von Gregory, H; Germann, G; Erdmann, D; Levin, LS
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