The medial arm flap has a long history but remains underused despite providing multiple advantages. We reviewed our experience with using the medial arm flap to clarify the distribution of septocutaneous perforators and its relationship with pedicled flap design.
Patients and methods
This retrospective study included 36 consecutive patients who underwent reconstructive surgery with a medial arm flap (42 arms). Septocutaneous perforator mapping was conducted using a refined coordinate system originating at the medial epicondyle, with the y-axis running to the axillary apex.
At least three perforators were identified along the medial intermuscular septum of the arm, located densely at 88 ± 8%, 49 ± 9%, and 20 ± 6% of the distance between the medial epicondyle and axillary apex (i.e., arm length), with a prevalence of 95.2%, 100%, and 85.7%, respectively. All arms had at least one medium- or large-sized perforator, and 90.5% of arms had at least two such perforators. Twenty-nine flaps were transferred as pedicled distant flaps for head and neck reconstruction or hand reconstruction, while the remaining 13 were transferred as perforator-based propeller flaps for axillary, elbow, or chest wall reconstruction. Thirty-six flaps underwent pre-transfer expansion. The average flap size was 157.9 ± 64.5 cm2 (range: 40–330 cm2). All flaps were successful, except for one perforator-based flap, which was replaced due to partial loss. Donor site morbidity was minimal.
Given its rich septocutaneous perforator distribution, the medial arm flap can be harvested reliably with versatile design and minimal donor site morbidity, thus deserving more attention in reconstructive surgery.
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Published online: February 09, 2019
Accepted: January 18, 2019
Received: July 9, 2018
© 2019 British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.