Review| Volume 60, ISSUE 7, P760-768, July 2007

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Rational flap selection and timing for coverage of complex upper extremity trauma


      Reconstruction of complex extremity trauma continues to be a challenging task for plastic surgeons. Characteristics of such injuries include destruction of functional structures, often due to high energy trauma that causes significant invalidity. Before the era of free flaps, pedicled fasciocutaneous and muscle flaps were the only option for reconstruction of the severely injured upper extremity. The management of complex injuries of the upper extremity has changed with the development of reconstructive microsurgery.
      Nowadays, we have a great variety of different free flaps to cover defects of the upper extremity and restore function by innervated free flaps. Sensibility, skin thickness, texture, colour, durability, binding of the flap to the underlying structures, donor site morbidity, possibility of secondary reconstructive procedures, the surgeon's experience and operative facilities must all be taken into consideration for choosing the optimal reconstructive procedure. Not only the reconstructive und functional requirements but the timing of reconstruction is extremely important for final result.
      The purpose of this paper is to define the principles of flap selection and timing of flap reconstruction, according to the assessment of trauma in the upper limb.


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