Research Article| Volume 65, ISSUE 10, P1357-1362, October 2012

Fasciocutaneous flaps of the subscapular artery axis to reconstruct large extremity defects



      The scapular, parascapular and thoracodorsal artery perforator (TDAP) flaps represent fasciocutaneous flaps derived from the subscapular artery axis. These flaps can be harvested individually or combined as conjoint flaps, tailored to reconstruct a wide variety of defects in the extremities.

      Analysis and methods

      All patients undergoing free-flap reconstruction at North Bristol trust with a fasciocutaneous flap of the subscapular axis from April 2006 until April 2010 were included. This cohort of 45 patients was retrospectively analysed. The Enneking score for return of limb function was used as an outcome measure after reconstruction. Donor-site morbidity analysis was carried out prospectively using Oxford Medical Research Council (MRC) score, Vancouver Scar Scale and disability of arm, shoulder and hand questionnaire (DASH) scores.


      A total of 45 patients had extremity reconstruction using flaps of the subscapular artery axis following severe limb trauma, often comprising open tibial fractures. A total of 42 patients had lower limb injuries and three had upper limb injuries. All flaps survived. The mean Injury Severity Score (ISS) was 9.3, the mean Enneking score was 27 at 12 months mean follow-up. In the nine conjoint flaps, the mean area of tissue resurfaced was 257 cm2.


      In this case series of fasciocutaneous flaps of the subscapular artery axis, we establish that these flaps are robust and versatile. They replace ‘like-with-like’ and have good patient satisfaction. The donor site can be closed primarily, is discrete and has minimal donor morbidity. The conjoint flaps can be used for reconstruction of very large defects without the need to sacrifice functionally important muscle.


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