Free flap reconstruction of the sole of the foot with or without sensory nerve coaptation

Fabio Santanelli, Stefania Tenna, Andrea Pace, Nicolò Scuderi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

66 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The authors present a retrospective study on major plantar foot reconstruction to evaluate the role of the free fasciocutaneous flap and the importance of sensory nerve reconstruction in improving long-term results. Between 1995 and 1999, 20 patients with major defects of the sole of the foot underwent free forearm flap reconstruction performed by the senior author (F.S.). Sensory nerve reconstruction was added to this technique in 1997. The age and sex of the patients and the cause, location, and dimensions of their defects were recorded. The patients were clinically and neurophysiologically evaluated at 3, 6, and 12 months after the procedure for the following parameters: flap contour, flap stability, load capacity, walking ability, touch sensation, pain sensation, static two-point discrimination, and thermal sensibility. Dermatomic somatosensory-evoked potentials were also tested at 12 months. Follow-up ranged from 1 to 5 years. Patients were divided into two groups according to sensory nerve reconstruction. Group A consisted of 11 patients with nerve repair, and group B consisted of nine patients without nerve repair. One patient from group A who had an idiopathic neuropathy was excluded from the study because of interference with the reinnervation process. Five more patients (three from group A and two from group B) were lost at follow-up and excluded from the study. The final sample size in each group was seven. Data from both groups were compared and statistically analyzed with the Mann-Whitney test and the Fisher exact test. Long-term results confirmed in all reconstructions long-lasting stability. During the first postoperative year, patients with sensory nerve reconstruction showed better sensibility. The statistical analyses confirmed significant differences between the two groups to be dependent upon surgical technique at 3 and 6 months. Two-point discrimination and dermatomic somatosensory-evoked potentials were recorded. After 12 months, flaps without surgical nerve repair showed progressive improvement of sensitive thresholds, achieving a good protective sensibility, similar to that of the other group, but these flaps never regained two-point discrimination or dermatomic somatosensory-evoked potentials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2314-2322
Number of pages9
JournalPlastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Volume109
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2002

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Free Tissue Flaps
Foot
Somatosensory Evoked Potentials
Surgical Flaps
Aptitude
Touch
Forearm
Sample Size
Walking
Retrospective Studies
Hot Temperature
Pain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery

Cite this

Free flap reconstruction of the sole of the foot with or without sensory nerve coaptation. / Santanelli, Fabio; Tenna, Stefania; Pace, Andrea; Scuderi, Nicolò.

In: Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Vol. 109, No. 7, 2002, p. 2314-2322.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Santanelli, Fabio ; Tenna, Stefania ; Pace, Andrea ; Scuderi, Nicolò. / Free flap reconstruction of the sole of the foot with or without sensory nerve coaptation. In: Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. 2002 ; Vol. 109, No. 7. pp. 2314-2322.
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