A donor-site preference utility study for three flaps used in lower extremity microvascular reconstruction

Ann Plast Surg. 2011 Jan;66(1):59-61. doi: 10.1097/SAP.0b013e3181d6e2b9.


Fasciocutaneous free flaps are commonly used in reconstruction of the lower extremity. The purpose of this study was to compare preferences in donor-site scar location among 3 flaps capable of covering a wound that is 4 to 6 cm wide with primary closure of the donor-site. The locations chosen were the lateral arm, the anterolateral thigh, and the proximal lateral calf. Survey participants were presented a hypothetical scenario of a trauma patient with an open anterior tibial wound, requiring free flap reconstruction. In an internet-based survey, respondents were asked to take on the role of the patient and to rate the 3 donor-site scar locations with a visual analog scale and rank them in order of preference. One hundred ninety-eight respondents (mean age 24.7 ± 2.9 years, 49.1% men) responded to the survey, and 171 were included. The anterolateral thigh was the most preferred donor site (88.9% ranked first, rated 8.24 ± 1.86), followed by the proximal lateral calf (8.7% ranked first, rated 5.03 ± 1.96), and the lateral arm was last (2.3% ranked first, rated 2.18 ± 1.62). Survey participants clearly preferred the anterolateral thigh as a donor site. This preference may be related to the ability to conceal the scar under clothing, whereas the proximal lateral calf could keep scars in a smaller topographical area of the body. When other aspects of the reconstruction are equal, it may be important for the surgeon and patient to discuss the goals of concealing the donor-site scar versus keeping the wound and reconstruction-related scars in a smaller topographical area of the body.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cicatrix / etiology
  • Female
  • Fractures, Open / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microsurgery / methods*
  • Patient Preference*
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Reconstructive Surgical Procedures / methods*
  • Sex Factors
  • Surgical Flaps / blood supply*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tibial Fractures / surgery*
  • Tissue and Organ Harvesting / methods*
  • Young Adult