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Ann Plast Surg. 2012 Jun;68(6):599-605. doi: 10.1097/SAP.0b013e31821ee359.

A modified free muscle transfer technique to effectively treat chronic and persistent calcaneal osteomyelitis.

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Department of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery/Surgery of the Hand, Hospital Ernst von Bergmann, Charlottenstrasse 72, Potsdam, Germany.


Successful management of chronic calcaneal osteomyelitis presents a major challenge for the plastic and reconstructive surgeon, especially in cases involving soft-tissue defects. This article describes a modified free muscle transfer technique to effectively eradicate chronic and persistent calcaneal osteomyelitis.


Between February 2009 and September 2009, 3 male patients with persistent calcaneal osteomyelitis were treated in our clinic. All 3 had purulent drainage for a minimum of 6 months and a maximum of 23 years. Multiple surgical debridements and vacuum-assisted closure had been used in the past, but the infection remained. We used a therapeutic protocol of repeated and radical surgical debridement with removal of nearly all cancellous bone and preservation of the cortical shell of the calcaneus. After the final debridement, the bone cavity was plugged by a free gracilis muscle flap from the contralateral side. A meshed split thickness skin graft was applied. Culture-specific antibiotics were administered for 2 weeks.


All flaps healed uneventfully except for a minor hematoma that was treated conservatively. All 3 patients were able to return to ambulatory status with regular foot apparel. At last follow-up evaluation, they had no clinical, laboratory, or radiologic signs of osteomyelitis.


This modified free muscle transfer technique seems to be successful in managing chronic and persistent calcaneal osteomyelitis. Infected and healthy cancellous bone of the calcaneus is removed to eradicate all possible foci that maintain inflammation. The resulting bony defect after the aggressive surgical debridement is sufficiently filled with a well-vascularized muscle that ensures a good wound healing. We consider this method to be a promising treatment option, which needs to be supported by further cases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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