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Eur J Vasc Endovasc Surg. 2006 Apr;31(4):423-30. Epub 2006 Feb 7.

Internal arteriovenous fistula within a radial forearm flap--a novel technique to increase femorodistal bypass graft flow to the diabetic foot and flap covering ischaemic tissue loss.

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  • 1Department of Plastic Surgery, Helsinki University Central Hospital, FIN-00029 HUS Helsinki, Finland.



The fascio-cutaneous radial forearm flap is especially suitable to rebuild the contour of the foot, but because of low natural low flow this flap lacks the beneficial effect of large muscle flaps on bypass graft flow. The aim of this study was to introduce a novel technique of flap coverage combined to vascular bypass: an internal av-fistula was created within a radial forearm flap.


Nine critically ischaemic limbs were treated with a modified radial forearm flap in the Department of Plastic and Vascular Surgery, Helsinki University Central Hospital 1998-2003. All the patients were candidates for a major amputation unless this combined operation was attempted. A two-team approach was used: the vascular surgeon performed the distal bypass and the radial forearm flap was raised by the plastic surgeon. In eight cases a femorodistal bypass was performed and in the ninth the vein graft supplied the flap directly. The internal fistula within the flap was created between the distal end of the radial artery and either the cephalic vein or the concomitant vein of the radial artery. Flow was measured during surgery.


Vein graft flow increased significantly after the radial forearm flap anastomosis (76 vs 44 ml/min, p=0.016). The flow of both the bypass graft and the flap artery were higher with the av-fistula patent (p=0.016 and p=0.004). Graft patency was 89% at 2 years. Infection was a major cause of amputation, 1- and 2-year limb salvages being 67 and 53%.


In a group of diabetic patients increased flow in a vascular bypass graft was achieved by an internal av-fistula within a radial forearm flap. This method is useful in selected cases with poor run off and large ischaemic lesions.

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