Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois (CHUV), Lausanne, CH, Switzerland; Canniesburn Plastic Surgery Unit, Glasgow Royal Infirmary, Glasgow, UK. Electronic address: [Email]
BACKGROUND : Composite anterolateral thigh (ALT) flap with vascularized fascia lata can reconstitute patellar tendon integrity and knee soft tissue coverage in one stage. However, long-term evidence of outcomes is lacking. This work analyzes long-term functional results, compares subtotal and total reconstruction of patellar tendon, and assesses the respective function of the extensor apparatus. METHODS : Outcomes of reconstruction using 10 ALT flaps in 9 patients (age range 21-87 years) were analyzed (mean follow-up 30 ± 6 months). Knee Society Scores, isometric knee extensor strength (M1-M5), and sensory recovery were evaluated, together with active range of motion and extensor lag of the reconstructed limb, compared to contralateral. RESULTS : Ten flaps were used for tendon replacement in 9 patients. Eight (80%) free flaps and 2 (20%) propeller distally based flaps were used. Complications requiring the harvest of a second flap were seen in 2 patients. All patients could return to their daily activities without the use of walking supports. Mean active ROM was 94.4° with an extensor lag of 9.4°, without a significant difference between partial and total patellar tendon reconstruction. The mean knee and functional scores of the Knee Society were 81/100 and 77/100, respectively. CONCLUSIONS : Composite ALT flap with fascia lata can satisfy the twofold needs of functional restoration and soft tissue coverage, thus ensuring stable results in total and subtotal knee extensor mechanism reconstruction. Distally based flaps should be carefully considered, as they lead to higher complication rates.