Original ArticleReconstruction of Limited Soft-Tissue Defect With Open Tibial Fracture in the Distal Third of the Leg: A Cost and Outcome StudyThornton, Brian P. MD, PhD*; Rosenblum, William J. MD†; Pu, Lee L. Q. MD, PhD, FACS*Author Information From the Divisions of *Plastic and †Orthopedic Surgery, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Lexington, KY. Received August 7, 2004; accepted for publication August 9, 2004. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Southeastern Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons, Hot Springs, VA, June 2004. Reprints: Lee. L. Q. Pu, MD, PhD, FACS, Division of Plastic Surgery, University of Kentucky, Kentucky Clinic, K454, Lexington, KY 40536. E-mail: [email protected]. Annals of Plastic Surgery: March 2005 - Volume 54 - Issue 3 - p 276-280 doi: 10.1097/01.sap.0000153148.61044.1a Buy Metrics AbstractIn Brief This study was conducted to analyze the cost and outcome of free-tissue transfers versus local muscle flaps for reconstruction of limited soft-tissue defects associated with tibial fractures in the distal third of the leg. Twelve adult patients underwent either free (n = 6) or local muscle (n = 6) flap reconstruction were retrospectively reviewed. Total operative time for local muscle flap reconstruction was 215 ± 47 minutes compared with 450 ± 90 minutes (P < 0.0002) for free-muscle transfer. Median length of hospital stay after reconstruction was 7 days for local muscle flap compared with 9 days for free-muscle transfer. Total cost of the local muscle flap procedure was $11,729 ± $4460 compared with $19,989 ± $3295 (P < 0.0004) for free-flap reconstruction. Five of 6 patients in each group had excellent soft-tissue contours. Fracture healing was evident in all patients of each group. Thus, a local muscle flap for reconstruction of a limited distal tibial wound appears to be more cost-effective than free-tissue transfer because of equivocal outcomes achieved but at approximately half of the cost. A comparison of 6 free flap and 6 local muscle flap reconstructions of distal-third leg open-fractures demonstrated twice the operative time, longer hospital stay, and greater cost with free flaps. All flaps healed satisfactorily. © 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.