Research Article| Volume 65, ISSUE 11, P1544-1550, November 2012

Tendon coverage using an artificial skin substitute



      Soft tissue deficits associated with exposed tendon and absent paratenon pose difficult reconstructive problems due to tendon adhesions, poor range of motion, poor cosmesis, and donor site morbidity. Integra Bilayer Matrix Wound Dressing (Integra Lifesciences Corp Plainsboro, NJ) is a skin substitute widely used in reconstructive surgery, including the incidental coverage of tendons. However, Integra's post-operative functionality of the tendons has not been well documented. We report the results of using Integra for soft tissue reconstruction overlying tendons with loss of paratenon in upper and lower extremity soft tissue defects. Methods: Forty-two patients (35 men and 7 women) with exposed tendons due to trauma (37), cancer excision (2) or chronic wounds (3) were reconstructed using Integra. Results were compiled in a prospective manner, including age, gender, wound location, wound size, time to final closure, operative time, follow-up length, split-thickness skin graft percentage take and active post-operative range of motion. Likewise using Medline, a literature search of current surgical techniques for the treatment of exposed tendons and the results from the literature were compared with these study results. Results: All patients healed with an average split-thickness skin graft take rate of 92.5% ± 6.1 (range, 80–100%). The thirty-two patients not lost to follow-up achieved an average range of motion of 91.2% ± 6.5 (range, 80–100%). Conclusion: Integra offers a convenient, efficient operative procedure with minimal morbidity, demonstrating good cosmesis and tendon function. Thus, Integra may offer an alternative option for immediate tendon coverage in both the upper and lower extremities.


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