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Functional Reconstruction Of Sarcoma Defects Utilising Innervated Free Flaps

Damien Grinsell, Claudia Di Bella, Peter F. M. Choong

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Soft-tissue reconstruction following preoperative radiotherapy and wide resection of soft tissue sarcoma remains a challenge. Pedicled and free tissue transfers are an essential part of limb sparing surgery. We report 22 cases of sarcoma treated with radiotherapy and wide excision followed by one-stage innervated free or pedicled musculocutaneous flap transfers. The resection involved the upper limb in 3 cases, the lower limb in 17, and the abdominal wall in 2. The flaps used for the reconstruction were mainly latissimus dorsi and gracilis. The range of motion was restored fully in 14 patients. The muscle strength of the compartment reconstructed was of grades 4 and 5 in all patients except one. The overall function was excellent in all the cases with functional scores of 71.2% in the upper limb and 84% in the lower limb. The only 2 major complications were flap necrosis, both revised with another flap, one of which was innervated with restoration of function. Innervated flaps are valuable alternatives for reconstruction after sarcoma resection in the extremity and in the abdominal wall. The excellent functional results are encouraging, and we believe that innervated muscle reconstruction should be encouraged in the treatment of sarcoma after radiotherapy and wide resection.