INTRODUCTION: The understanding of the skin's vascular anatomy has improved in the last decade. It has lead to technique modification such as the staged procedure in performing sural flaps and improvement in the flap survival rate. The aim of this study was to evaluate the acute vascular complications (flap necrosis or congestion) of 29 patients who underwent distal base sural flap for coverage of wound around the ankle.
METHODS: Twenty-four males and five females with a mean age of 37.1 years old underwent sural flap surgery to cover wounds at around the ankle. There were 12 cases of open fracture, five infected fractures, four spoke injuries, four degloving injuries and four diabetic foot ulcers. Twentythree cases were done as a single stage procedure while six as a two-stage procedure. The flaps were tunnelled under the skin in three cases.
RESULTS: Twenty one flaps healed uneventfully, seven acute vascular complications occur in a single stage group: five developed partial necrosis, one had congestion with epidermolysis, and one had complete flap necrosis. Complications were treated by dressing or skin grafting and only one required a repeat flap surgery.
CONCLUSIONS: Acute vascular complications may be minimised when sural flap is done in stages for elderly, diabetic, smokers and/or patients with large wound around the ankle. Even if the flap appears necrotic, the underlying structure may still be covered as the fasciosubcutaneous layer of the flap may still survive.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.