The authors present their experience with the use of sural fasciocutaneous flaps for the treatment of various soft tissue defects in the lower limb. This paper is a review of these flaps carried out between 2003 and 2008. The series consists of 16 patients, 11 men and 5 women with an average age of 41 years (17-81) and with a follow-up period between 2 and 7 years. The etiology was major velocity accident in six cases, diabetes mellitus with osteomyelitis after ORIF for fractures (2), work accident in five, and another two cases with complications of lower limb injuries. The defect areas were located on calcaneus, malleolar area, tarsal area and lower tibia. Associated risk factors in the patients for the flap performance were diabetes (five patients) and cigarette smoking (ten patients).
The technique is based on the use of a reverse-flow island sural flap combined with other flaps in three cases (cross-leg, peroneal, gastrocnemius). The anatomical structures which constituted the pedicle were the superficial and deep fascia, the sural nerve, the lesser saphenous vein and skin.
The flap was viable in all 15 patients. On 8 cases was achieved direct closure, on three cases occurred a superficial necrosis and was skin grafted, on one case was observed partial necrosis which was treated with a second flap (posterior tibial perforator flap) and another one occurred delayed skin healing.
The sural fasciocutaneous flap is useful for the treatment of severe and complex injuries and their complications in diabetic and non diabetic lower limbs. Its technical advantages are easy dissection, preservation of more important vascular structures in the limb and complete coverage of the soft tissue defects in just one operation without the need of microsurgical anastomosis. Thus this flap offers excellent donor sites for repairing soft tissue defects in foot and ankle.