Systematic Review of Free Tissue Transfer Used in Pediatric Lower Extremity Injuries

Mehul Thakkar, MBBS; Bartlomiej Bednarz, MBBS, MA(Cantab)


ePlasty. 2021;21:e2 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Aims: To analyze the recent literature regarding the different types of free tissue transfer used in pediatric lower-limb trauma, trends, flap success rates, and the anatomical location of reconstruction.

Method: A search was conducted involving the MEDLINE database using the key words "Paediatric," "Pediatric," "Children," "Lower limb," "Lower extremity," "Leg," "Ankle," "Foot," "Free flap," "Flap," "Microsurgery," and "Free tissue transfer" in a 3-component search applying the Boolean operators "OR" and "AND." The search was condensed to articles published in the last 5 years.

Results: In total, 240 studies were retrieved. Thirty-nine titles were selected and after reviewing the abstracts, 10 articles fit the inclusion and exclusion criteria. A total of 220 free flaps were used to reconstruct defects. Age range was between 2 and 17 years. Complete flap failure rate was 4.5% (n = 10). The anterolateral thigh perforator flap was the commonest flap used (n = 59), and the latissimus dorsi flap was the commonest muscle flap used (n = 51). Sixty-five percent of flaps were fasciocutaneous/perforator, while muscle flaps accounted for only 33% of flaps. The foot and ankle region accounted for 72% of defects.

Conclusion: With evidence of improved success rates, free tissue transfer has become a popular choice in reconstruction of pediatric lower-limb trauma injuries. This study shows that perforator/fasciocutaneous flaps have recently become a more popular choice over muscle flaps. Overall, the success rate of free flaps in pediatric lower-limb trauma is high (95.5%) and comparable with the adult population.