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Fracture of the radial donor site after composite free flap harvest: a ten-year review

Lookup NU author(s): S Clark, Professor Mark Greenwood, Robert Banks


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The options for donor sites as a source of tissue for free vascularised osteocutaneous flaps are numerous, however, the radial forearm still has an important role. This series reports the largest published record of radial donor site fracture following the harvesting of osteocutaneous radial forearm free flaps used for reconstruction after ablative surgery for malignant disease. The relevant literature is reviewed. A retrospective review of cases treated using these flaps from 1991-2000 (inclusive) is carried out. Factors involved in the aetiology of fractures are discussed. Thirteen fractures are identified from seventy one osteocutaneous flaps (18%). A statistically significant majority of fractures occur in females. Limiting the percentage of radius diameter harvested is important and beveling of the osteotomy cuts may be advantageous in minimising weakening. Prophylactic plating of the donor site, particularly in the female patient, should be actively considered. The earlier the fracture occurs in the post-operative period, the more likely the need for operative intervention.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Clark S, Greenwood M, Banks RJ, Parker P

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: The Surgeon

Year: 2004

Volume: 2

Issue: 5

Pages: 281-286

ISSN (print): 1479-666X

ISSN (electronic):


DOI: 10.1016/S1479-666X(04)80098-2