Comparison of Musculocutaneous and Fasciocutaneous Free Flaps for the Reconstruction of the Extensive Composite Scalp and Cranium Defects

J Craniofac Surg. 2018 Oct;29(7):1947-1951. doi: 10.1097/SCS.0000000000005052.


Composite scalp and cranium defects, which require microsurgical reconstruction, result from tumor resection, radiation, trauma, severe burn injuries, and rarely vasculitic disorders. In the current study, the authors aim to compare the outcomes of the fasciocutaneous flaps and musculocutaneous free flaps used for the reconstruction of extensive composite scalp and cranium defects. From 2010 to 2017, 21 patients who underwent composite scalp and cranium defect reconstruction with a free flap were retrospectively identified. Eighteen patients had squamous cell carcinoma, 2 patients had meningioma, and 1 patient had Ewing sarcoma. Thirteen musculocutaneous free flaps including latissimus dorsi and vertical rectus abdominis flaps and 9 free fasciocutaneous flaps including radial forearm and anterolateral thigh flaps were used. Only 1 flap loss was encountered. No neurologic impairment in postoperative period was reported. The mean length of stay in the hospital, the duration of surgery, and total volume of blood transfusion for the fasciocutaneous flap group were significantly shorter than those for musculocutaneous flap group. No flap atrophy was reported in fasciocutaneous flap group. Reconstruction of the composite scalp and cranium defects with fasciocutaneous free flaps allows shorter hospitalization, less blood transfusion and less flap atrophy than those of musculocutaneous flaps. To this respect, their usage should be prioritized in such challenging patients.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Blood Transfusion
  • Fascia / transplantation*
  • Female
  • Free Tissue Flaps / transplantation*
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocutaneous Flap / transplantation*
  • Operative Time
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Reconstructive Surgical Procedures / adverse effects
  • Reconstructive Surgical Procedures / methods*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Scalp / surgery*
  • Skull / surgery*
  • Young Adult