BACKGROUND: Loss of soft tissue in heel-calcaneal region is frequently caused by trauma, infection, or tumors. Limited availability of similar tissue becomes challenging, therefore, the use of free tissue transfer offers a solution. Our aim is to describe long term functional outcome of different free tissue transfers for these defects.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed 24 consecutive cases of the heel-calcaneal defect between January 2009 and December 2014. The free fasciocutaneous perforator (FCP) flaps were performed in 14 cases and free muscle flaps with skin graft in 10 cases. The postoperative complications, range of motion and ability of ambulation or exercise were administered to evaluate functional results.
RESULTS: The average follow-up period was 26.5 months. The survival of free flap was 100%. Early complication included venous thrombosis, infection and edge dehiscence was noted in 8 cases. Late complication with insensate ulcers developed in 3 cases (1 cases in FCP flap, 2 cases in muscle flap). All ulcers healed spontaneously without surgical intervention. The postoperative average range of motion of ankle regained 52.79 degree in FCP flap group and 56.4 degree in muscle flap group. The ability of ambulation or exercise returned in 13 cases in FCP group (13/14) and 9 cases in muscle flap group (9/10). No differences of complication rate (P = .403), ROM (P = .363) or functional evaluation (P = .803) could be found between these two groups.
CONCLUSIONS: Both FCP flap and muscle flaps provided the similar and excellent functional results in resurfacing of heel-calcaneal defects after long term follow up.