J Reconstr Microsurg 2021; 37(07): 608-616
DOI: 10.1055/s-0041-1723823
Original Article

Vein Grafting in Microsurgical Lower Extremity Reconstruction: Outcome Analysis of Primary versus Secondary Salvage Procedures

1  Department of Hand, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, BG Trauma Center Ludwigshafen, University of Heidelberg, Ludwigshafen, Germany
,
Lingyun Xiong
1  Department of Hand, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, BG Trauma Center Ludwigshafen, University of Heidelberg, Ludwigshafen, Germany
2  Department of Plastic Surgery, Union Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China
,
Jiaming Sun
2  Department of Plastic Surgery, Union Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China
,
Ulrich Kneser
1  Department of Hand, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, BG Trauma Center Ludwigshafen, University of Heidelberg, Ludwigshafen, Germany
,
1  Department of Hand, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, BG Trauma Center Ludwigshafen, University of Heidelberg, Ludwigshafen, Germany
› Author Affiliations

Abstract

Background Many microsurgeons fear high complication rates and free flap loss when vein grafting is necessary to restore blood flow at the recipient site. The aims of this study were to comparatively analyze surgical outcomes of interposition vein grafts (VG) in microsurgical primary lower extremity reconstruction and secondary salvage procedures.

Methods A retrospective study was conducted on 58 patients undergoing free flap transfers with vein grafting for primary lower extremity reconstruction (cohort 1) and secondary salvage procedures (cohort 2) between 2002 and 2016. A matched-pair analysis of both cohorts and 58 non-VG flaps was performed. Patient data, preoperative conditions, flap and vein graft characteristics, postoperative outcomes such as flap failure, thrombosis, and wound complications were analyzed.

Results A total of 726 free flap transfers were performed. In total, 36 primary reconstructions (5%) utilized 41 interposition VG (cohort 1). Postoperative vascular compromise was observed in 65 free flaps (9%). In total, 22 out of 65 secondary salvage procedures (33.8%) utilized 26 interposition VG (cohort 2). Two total flap losses occurred in each cohort (5.6 vs. 9.1%; p = 0.63). Postoperative complications were observed in 38.9% of free flaps in cohort 1 and 72.7% in cohort 2 (p = 0.01). Takeback for microvascular compromise was comparable in both cohorts (19.4 vs. 22.7%; p = 0.75). Microvascular complications occurred more often in cohort 2 (22.7%) than in cohort 1 (8.3%; p = 0.28). Lower extremity salvage rates were high among both cohorts (94.4 vs. 90.9%; p = 0.63). Matched-pair analysis did not show any relevant differences on takebacks and flap loss (p = 0.32 and p = 1.0).

Conclusion In complex lower extremity reconstructions, VG can be performed with acceptable complication rates and outcomes in primary and especially in salvage cases. With careful planning and a consistent surgical protocol, VG can provide reliable success rates in limb salvage.



Publication History

Received: 24 August 2020

Accepted: 22 December 2020

Publication Date:
16 February 2021 (online)

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