Soft Tissue Reconstruction for Upper Extremity Necrotizing Soft Tissue Infections

Ann Plast Surg. 2022 Dec 1;89(6):631-636. doi: 10.1097/SAP.0000000000003237. Epub 2022 Jun 7.


Introduction: One of the main aspects of management for necrotizing soft tissue infection (NSTI) is surgical excision and debridement, which can result in large soft tissue defects. This study examined the reconstructive options and outcomes of patients with upper extremity NSTIs.

Methods: A retrospective chart review was performed on patients from a single institution who were diagnosed with an upper extremity NSTI between 2014 and 2019. Patient characteristics, infectious etiology, surgical debridements, reconstructive procedures, and secondary procedures were analyzed.

Results: There were 99 patients included in the study. The median size of the wound from the initial surgical debridement was 100 cm 2 (interquartile range, 300 cm 2 ). The mean number of debridements was 3.4. Seven patients underwent amputations, and 12 patients died. Most wounds were reconstructed via delayed primary closure (15 patients), skin grafting (16 patients), or a combination of the two (30 patients). Three patients underwent reverse radial forearm flaps, 1 patient underwent a groin flap, 3 patients underwent pedicled latissimus muscle flaps, and 2 patients underwent local flexor carpi ulnaris muscle flaps. Seven patients did not undergo any surgical reconstruction, and their wounds were managed with local wound care. Eight patients had complete or partial failure of their initial soft reconstruction requiring an additional operation, and 5 patients had secondary operations for neuromas and/or contractures.

Conclusions: Overall, patients with upper extremity NSTIs survive and undergo successful reconstruction of their wounds. Few patients required additional procedures for reconstructive failure or sequela of their wounds.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Plastic Surgery Procedures* / methods
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Soft Tissue Infections* / surgery
  • Soft Tissue Injuries* / surgery
  • Surgical Flaps / surgery
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Upper Extremity / surgery