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Br J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2010 Jun;48(4):245-52. doi: 10.1016/j.bjoms.2009.09.004. Epub 2009 Oct 17.

Review of the radial free flap: is it still evolving, or is it facing extinction? Part one: soft-tissue radial flap.

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  • 1University Hospitals of Leicester, Leicester LE1 5WW, UK.


The versatile fasciocutaneous radial flap is robust and reliable, straightforward to harvest, and often produces a satisfactory reconstruction with relatively little long-term morbidity at the donor site. Many surgeons prefer to use a limited number of trusted flaps, and these qualities will ensure that in the intermediate future most surgical trainees will continue to be shown the fasciocutaneous radial flap as both the basic training flap and the established option for reconstruction. Evidence from observational clinical studies and one randomised clinical trial indicates that there is increasing support for the use of the evolutionary technique of suprafascial dissection to minimise morbidity at the donor site. The suprafascial donor site may be repaired with either a meshed or unmeshed partial-thickness skin graft, or a fenestrated full-thickness skin graft, with good rates of successful healing. The application of a negative pressure dressing to the wound seems to facilitate the healing of all types of skin graft. The subfascial donor site, however, remains more prone to complications. It may be helpful to position the donor site of the flap more proximally, but this has not been proven. These refinements probably produce the best outcomes that can currently be achieved, given the inherent flaws of the radial donor site.

Copyright 2009 The British Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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