Background: Many surgeons have to face the challenge of the sophisticated management of catastrophic high-voltage injuries to upper extremities. These patients present with both vast soft tissue defects and varied segmental main artery defects with compromised circulation of the distal limb. This study is a first attempt to analyze the outcome of the flow-through anterolateral thigh flap for reconstruction in acute electrical burns of the severely traumatized upper extremity. Method and patient: From March 2001 to February 2012, five men were enrolled in the study. All in this series suffered from high voltage current (higher than 1000 V) electrical burn and had the presence of wide segmental soft tissue defects, exposure of underlying vital structures and segmental artery injury with compromised circulation. Flow-through anterolateral thigh flaps were used for limb salvage. Result: Follow up for all patients was present from 6 months to 7 years. The mean age was 37.8 years old. The mean timing of free flap transfer was 5.8 days after injury. The mean flap sizes were 31.6 cm × 16.5 cm. The mean artery defect was 14.2 cm in length. Venous thrombosis occurred 1 day post-operatively in one patient. No donor site morbidity was noted. In the postoperative period, no infection, no hematoma, nor deaths were noted. Successful limb salvage rate was 80% in this series. Conclusion: In electrical injuries of the severely damaged upper extremity, flow through anterolateral thigh flaps provide for reconstruction of both the vessels and soft tissue simultaneously. Although the risk of flap failure is higher than with other etiologies of burn, the data shows that the above reconstruction technique is useful for upper extremity salvage.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Emergency Medicine
- Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine