The need for thin flap coverage has increased, especially for contouring or covering shallow defects of extremities. The free thoracodorsal artery perforator flap harvested from the upper lateral back can be useful for this purpose. The thoracodorsal artery supplies the latissimus dorsi muscle and supplies perforating branches to the overlying skin. The flap is based upon the proximal perforator of the thoracodorsal artery, which usually emerges in an area approximately 8-10 cm below the posterior axillary fold and 2-3 cm posterior to the lateral border of the latissimus dorsi muscle. Between February of 2001 and April of 2003, we used the free thoracodorsal artery perforator flap for distal limbs reconstruction in 12 clinical cases, including three hands, two forearms and seven feet. The soft tissue defects resulted from trauma, scar release, chronic ulcer, or tumour ablation. The main advantages of the thoracodorsal artery perforator flap are that it contains no muscle, allowing more reconstructive precision, and morbidity is minimised by preserving the function of the latissimus dorsi muscle and hiding the donor scar. However, meticulous intra-muscular retrograde dissection of the perforator, to the thoracodorsal artery, is necessary in order to obtain suitable pedicle length and vessel diameter.The authors conclude that the free thoracodorsal artery perforator flap has greater potential for resurfacing large defects of distal limbs, because of its suitable thickness and hidden donor site.
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