Flaps are the essence of reconstructive surgery. The ability to successfully design, execute and manage the flaps makes plastic surgery an outstanding speciality. The choice of flap is mainly guided by the type of the defect. However, certain factors like technique feasibility, duration of the surgery and patient factors do have a role in decision making. The primary type of free flap (whether a muscle or a fasciocutaneous flap) is dictated by the defect or the wound characteristics. However, the choice of flap depends on various factors like the component of flap, pedicle length required, the ease of harvest and donor site morbidity. Tensor fascia lata (TFL) is one myocutaneous flap, which has well developed components other than a muscle.
The patients admitted to a tertiary care hospital with the diagnosis of composite tissue defect in any region of the body were enrolled for this study from November 2016 to November 2018. Patients undergoing free TFL flap reconstruction are studied. The duration of flap harvest, the anatomical site of pedicle, flap outcome and the need of secondary surgery were analysed.
Totally 14 patients were reconstructed with a free TFL flap. The anatomic location of the defect was more frequent on lower limbs – 8 cases (58%), followed by the upper limb and the head and neck area (3 cases, each 21%). The mean flap harvest time was -62.07 (45-80) min. The mean size of pedicle entry was 8.7 cm from the anterior superior iliac spine. Out of the 14 flaps, there were 10 (71%) flaps successful completely and 4 (29%) of them had partial loss.
A free TFL flap harvest time is very short compared to any other flaps and hence makes it the flap of choice in patients who are critical and cannot withstand long operating time.