Free flaps are usually required rather than local flaps for large plantar defects, due to a lack of locally available tissue. The medial sural artery perforator free flap, recently introduced clinically by several authors, is a noticeable option for soft tissue coverage, but it has still not been widely used for the reconstruction of various large plantar defects.
Between 2005 and 2007, medial sural artery perforator free flaps were used to reconstruct soft tissue defects in plantar areas in 11 patients at our institute. Patient ages ranged from 10 to 68 years (mean, 43 years), and follow-up periods ranged from 7 to 22 months (mean, 13 months).
Flap sizes ranged from 10 to 14 cm in length and from 5 to 7 cm in width. Flaps survived in all patients. Marginal loss over the distal flap region was noted in 1 patient, and this was treated successfully with a subsequent split-thickness skin graft. In another one case, venous insufficiency developed, but salvage was successful with leech application. Long-term follow-up showed good flap durability with a protective sensation.
The medial sural artery perforator flap provides sufficient durability for weight-bearing areas, even though it is a thin cutaneous flap. The authors recommend that this flap be considered as a reliable alternative for the reconstruction of large plantar defects.