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Ann Plast Surg. 2016 Oct;77(4):469-76. doi: 10.1097/SAP.0000000000000646.

The Lumbar Artery Perforator Flap: 3-Dimensional Anatomical Study and Clinical Applications.

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From the *Division of Diagnostic Radiology, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada; †Plastic, Reconstructive and Microvascular Surgery, New York, NY; and ‡Division of Plastic Surgery, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.



The lumbar region is a potential donor site for perforator-based rotational or free flaps or as a recipient site for free flaps to obtain coverage for deficits in the sacral region. Because of the lack of consensus regarding the microvascular anatomy of this potential flap site, a robust investigation of the anatomy of this region is required.


Three-dimensional reconstructions (n = 6) of the microvasculature of the lumbar region were generated using MIMICS software (Materialise, Belgium) for each of the four paired lumbar vessels. Diameter, course, and pedicle length were recorded for all lumbar artery (LA) perforators. Statistical analysis was performed using SigmaStat 4.0 and graphs were generated using GraphPad Prism 6 Software.


Perforators arising from the first pair of LAs are reliably detected along the inferior margin of the 12th rib, extending inferiorly and laterally from the midline while perforators arising from the fourth pair of LA perforate the fascia along a horizontal plane connecting the posterior iliac crests. There are significantly more cutaneous perforators arising from the first (L1) and fourth (L4) pairs of LA than from the second (L2) and third (L3) (mean ± SD: L1, 5.5 ± 1.2; L2, 1.4 ± 0.7; L3, 1.3 ± 0.7; L4, 4.8 ± 1.0; P < 0.05). The average perforator diameter arising from L1 is greater than those arising from L4 (diameter ± SD: L1, 1.2 mm ± 0.2 >L4, 0.8 mm ± 0.2; P < 0.0001). L1 and L4 perforators have longer pedicle lengths than those arising from L2 and L3 (length ± SD: L1, 98.2 mm ± 57.8; L4, 106.1 mm ± 23.3 >L2, 67.5 mm ± 27.4; L3, 78.5 mm ± 30.3; P < 0.05).


Perforators arising from the first and fourth LAs arise in a predictable fashion, have adequate pedicle lengths, and are of suitable diameter to support a perforator flap. We present a case to support the potential use of this flap for microvascular breast reconstruction.

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