The anatomical (angiosome) and clinical territories of cutaneous perforating arteries: development of the concept and designing safe flaps

Plast Reconstr Surg. 2011 Apr;127(4):1447-1459. doi: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e318208d21b.


Background: Island "perforator flaps" have become state of the art for free-skin flap transfer. Recent articles by Saint-Cyr et al. and Rozen et al. have focused on the anatomical and the clinical territories of individual cutaneous perforating arteries in flap planning, and it is timely to compare this work with our angiosome concept.

Methods: The angiosome concept, published in 1987, was reviewed and correlated with key experimental and clinical work by the authors, published subsequently at different times in different journals. In addition, new data are introduced to define these anatomical and clinical territories of the cutaneous perforators and to aid in the planning of safe skin flaps for local and free-flap transfer.

Results: The anatomical territory of a cutaneous perforator was defined in the pig, dog, guinea pig, and rabbit by a line drawn through its perimeter of anastomotic vessels that link it with adjacent perforators in all directions. The safe clinical territory of that perforator, seen not only in the same range of animals but also in the human using either the Doppler probe or computed tomography angiography to locate the vessels, was found reliably to extend to include the anatomical territory of the next adjacent cutaneous perforator, situated radially in any direction.

Conclusion: The data provided by Saint-Cyr et al. and Rozen et al., coupled with the authors' own original work on the vascular territories of the body and their subsequent studies, reinforce the angiosome concept and provide the basis for the design of safe flaps for patient benefit.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arteries / anatomy & histology
  • Arteriovenous Anastomosis / anatomy & histology
  • Dogs
  • Graft Survival
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Humans
  • Rabbits
  • Skin / blood supply*
  • Surgical Flaps / blood supply*
  • Sus scrofa