Free Composite Serratus Anterior-Latissimus-Rib Flaps for Acute One-Stage Reconstruction of Gustilo IIIB Tibia Fractures

Matthew T. Houdek, Eric R. Wagner, Chad D. Watts, Stephen A. Sems, Steven Lawrence Moran

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2 Scopus citations


Gustilo IIIB injuries of the tibia with segmental bone loss continue to be a difficult reconstructive problem. The serratus anterior-latissimus-rib (SALR) composite flap consists of bone and muscle; this flap can provide soft tissue coverage and vascularized bone in a single surgical procedure. The purpose of this study is to describe the use of the SALR flap for the treatment of a large open tibia fracture with segmental bone loss, with a specific focus on postoperative complications, limb salvage, and time to union. We reviewed the medical records of patients undergoing an SALR flap (n = 5) for the treatment of Gustilo Type IIIB tibia fractures within 1 month of injury. We compared the mechanism of injury, injury severity score, time from injury to free tissue transfer, complications, and time to radiographic and clinical union. All patients were male, with a mean age of 25 years. On average, patients underwent free tissue transfer within 1 week of injury. The average time to radiographic union was 7 months. Two patients underwent reoperation. There were no graft failures. Free SALR flaps can be a useful option for the treatment of high-energy tibia fractures with extensive soft tissue and bone loss. These flaps provide immediate osseous and soft tissue reconstruction with an acceptable complication profile.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican journal of orthopedics (Belle Mead, N.J.)
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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