In the quadriplegic patient, the periolecranon region is subjected to continuous and permanent mechanical shearing and pressure forces. As the sensation of this region is partially impaired secondary to the level of the spinal cord injury, this anatomical area is prone to develop bursitis and then a chronic open draining wound. This type of wound is refractory to conservative measures. Surgical closure of this functional area can represent a challenge to the plastic and reconstructive surgeon because not all of the surgical options available are suitable for spinal cord injury patients. Therefore, we describe our clinical experience, which consists of seven patients with traumatic complete quadriplegia treated between 1989 and 1998 (all patients were male) who presented with an open olecranon ulcer, septic bursitis, or aseptic bursitis, and who underwent surgical closure by direct closure, local arm fasciocutaneous flap, or cross-chest flap to cover the periolecranon soft-tissue defects. The follow-up period ranged from 3 months to 8 years (mean, 44 months). All types of flaps achieved wound closure without losing range of motion at the elbow; however, at 10 to 12 months after surgery, an olecranon pressure ulcer or septic bursitis recurred in three of seven patients. These three patients required surgical revision. The local fasciocutaneous rotational flap was found to be effective for closing periolecranon soft-tissue defects and can be reused in instances of recurrence. Patient education is essential to prevent re-ulceration in that functional area in the spinal cord injury patient. (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 107: 1473, 2001.)
From Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center, University of Southern California. Received for publication May 17, 2000; revised July 28, 2000.
Salah Rubayi, M.D.
Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center
University of Southern California
7601 E. Imperial Highway, JPI — 3rd Floor
Downey, Calif. 90242
©2001American Society of Plastic Surgeons