Latissimus dorsi/rib intercostal perforator myo-osseocutaneous free flap reconstruction in composite defects of the scalp: case series and review of literature

J Reconstr Microsurg. 2009 Nov;25(9):559-67. doi: 10.1055/s-0029-1236834. Epub 2009 Aug 13.


Adequate coverage of complex, composite scalp defects in previously radiated, infected, or otherwise compromised tissue represents a challenge in reconstructive surgery. To provide wound closure with bony protection to the brain, improve cranial contour, and prevent or seal cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leaks, composite free tissue transfer is a reliable and safe option. We report our experience with the latissimus dorsi/rib intercostal perforator myo-osseocutaneous free flap in the reconstruction of bony and soft tissue defects of the cranium and overlying scalp. The surgical technique, design, and outcomes of the latissimus dorsi/rib intercostal perforator myo-osseocutaneous free flap reconstruction in five patients with cranial defects between 2003 and 2007 were retrospectively evaluated. Patient characteristics, defect size, underlying cause, reconstructive details, and complications were analyzed. All patients (age 43 to 81) had composite defects ranging from 36 to 750 cm2 (mean size 230 cm2) for the bony component and from 16 to 400 cm2 (mean size 170 cm2) for the soft tissue defect. All patients had a history of prior or current infection of the affected area, and two patients had a CSF leak. Defects were due to malignancy and infection (n = 2), infiltrative cutaneous mucormycosis with osteomyelitis (n = 1), and hemorrhagic stroke requiring craniectomy (n = 2), complicated by infection and failed cranioplasty in one patient and continuous CSF leak in the other. The latissimus dorsi composite free flap consisting of skin, muscle, and vascularized rib can successfully cover large complex cranial defects, provide skeletal support, improve contour, and significantly enhance functional outcome with limited donor site morbidity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal / transplantation
  • Plastic Surgery Procedures / methods*
  • Ribs / transplantation
  • Scalp / surgery*
  • Surgical Flaps / blood supply*
  • Wounds and Injuries / surgery*