Purpose: Cervical scar contracture causes both physical and psychological distress for burn patients. Many pedicle flaps or skin grafting have been suggested for reconstruction of cervical scar contracture with variable results in the literature. The authors present the axial thoracic flap based on the thoracic branch of the supraclavicular artery (TBSA) for reconstruction of cervical scar contracture.
Methods: Postburn scar contractures in anterior neck region of 66 patients had been reconstructed with the axial pattern thoracic flaps based on the TBSA, including 1 expanded and 10 nonexpanded pedicle flaps, and 9 expanded and 46 nonexpanded island pedicle flaps, during 1988 through 2012. After removing and releasing the cervical scar contracture, the flap was designed in the thoracic region. The axial artery of the flap is the TBSA bifurcating from the intersection point of sternocleidomastoid muscle and omohyoid muscle with several concomitant veins as the axial veins. The flap can be designed in a large area within the borders of the anterior border of the trapezius muscle superiorly, the middle part of the deltoid muscle laterally, the midsternal line medially, and the level 3 to 4 cm below nipples inferiorly. After incisions were made along the medial, inferior, and lateral border, dissection was performed toward the pedicle. Donor site was closed directly in expanded cases and with skin grafting in nonexpanded cases.
Results: Cervical scar contractures were repaired with good functional and cosmetic results in 64 cases among this cohort. Flap tip necrosis in other 2 cases, caused by postoperative hematoma, was repaired by skin grafting. The color and texture of all flaps were fitted with those of the surrounding skin. The donor sites all healed primarily. The flap sensation in the thoracic region regained in the early stage postoperatively and that in cervical area recovered completely after 6 months according to the report of the patients.
Conclusion: With reliable blood supply based on the dissection of cadavers, axial flap based on the TBSA is a good option for reconstructing severe cervical scar contracture.