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The Anatomical (Angiosome) and Clinical Territories of Cutaneous Perforating Arteries: Development of the Concept and Designing Safe Flaps

Taylor, G. Ian F.R.A.C.S.; Corlett, Russell J. F.R.A.C.S.; Dhar, Shymal C. M.D.; Ashton, Mark W. F.R.A.C.S.

Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery: April 2011 - Volume 127 - Issue 4 - pp 1447-1459
doi: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e318208d21b
Experimental: Special Topic

Background: Island “perforator flaps” have become state of the art for free-skin flap transfer. Recent articles by Saint-Cyr et al. and Rozen et al. have focused on the anatomical and the clinical territories of individual cutaneous perforating arteries in flap planning, and it is timely to compare this work with our angiosome concept.

Methods: The angiosome concept, published in 1987, was reviewed and correlated with key experimental and clinical work by the authors, published subsequently at different times in different journals. In addition, new data are introduced to define these anatomical and clinical territories of the cutaneous perforators and to aid in the planning of safe skin flaps for local and free-flap transfer.

Results: The anatomical territory of a cutaneous perforator was defined in the pig, dog, guinea pig, and rabbit by a line drawn through its perimeter of anastomotic vessels that link it with adjacent perforators in all directions. The safe clinical territory of that perforator, seen not only in the same range of animals but also in the human using either the Doppler probe or computed tomography angiography to locate the vessels, was found reliably to extend to include the anatomical territory of the next adjacent cutaneous perforator, situated radially in any direction.

Conclusion: The data provided by Saint-Cyr et al. and Rozen et al., coupled with the authors' own original work on the vascular territories of the body and their subsequent studies, reinforce the angiosome concept and provide the basis for the design of safe flaps for patient benefit.

Parkville, Victoria, Australia

From the Jack Brockhoff Reconstructive Plastic Surgery Research Unit, Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Melbourne.

Received for publication June 29, 2010; accepted October 2, 2010.

Disclosure: None of the authors has received any financial or other support or has any financial or professional relationships that might pose a competing interest.

G. Ian Taylor, F.R.A.C.S., The Jack Brockhoff Reconstructive Plastic Surgery Research Unit, E533, Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, The University of Melbourne, Parkville 3050, Victoria, Australia, pdodwell@unimelb.edu.au

©2011American Society of Plastic Surgeons