Perforator flaps in late-stage pressure sore treatment: outcome analysis of 11-year-long experience with 143 patients

Ann Plast Surg. 2014 Dec;73(6):679-85. doi: 10.1097/SAP.0b013e31828587a8.


Background: In the last decade, perforator flaps have been introduced for the treatment of pressure ulcers as alternative to the more popular myocutaneous local flaps. We reviewed our single-team 11-year experience in order to define whether real advantages could be achieved.

Methods: We analyzed 143 patients undergoing perforator flap surgery for a single late-stage pressure sore. All patients underwent the same protocol treatment. Data regarding associated pathologies, demographics, complications, healing, and hospitalization times were collected.

Results: Ninety-three percent of 143 patients were white Caucasian, and 61% were men, with median age of 51 years. Of 143 stage 4 ulcers, 46.2% were ischial, 42.7% sacral, and 11.2% trochanteric. The most common diagnosis was traumatic paraplegia/tetraplegia (74.9%); no significant difference was found in diagnosis distribution and in ulcer location between recurrent and nonrecurrent patients. We performed 44 S-GAP, 78 I-GAP, 3 PFAP-am, and 18 PFAP-1 flaps. At 2 years' follow-up, the overall recurrence was 22.4% and new ulcer occurrence was 4.2%. Mean hospital stay was 16 days. The overall complication percentage was 22.4%, mostly due to suture-line dehiscence (14%) and distal flap necrosis (6.3%). PFAP flaps had a significant higher risk of developing recurrence than I-GAP flaps. The recurrence risk was significantly higher for subjects suffering from coronary artery disease.

Conclusions: Late-stage pressure sore treatment with local perforator flaps can achieve reliable long-term outcomes in terms of recurrences and complications. When compared to previously published data, perforator flaps surgery decreased postoperative hospital stay (by an average of nearly 1 week), reoperations (5.6%), and occurrences.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Perforator Flap*
  • Plastic Surgery Procedures / methods*
  • Pressure Ulcer / surgery*
  • Recurrence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome