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The latissimus dorsi flap for reconstruction of the brachium and shoulder.

Stern, P J; Carey, J P

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The latissimus dorsi was transferred on its neurovascular pedicle to reconstruct the shoulder or brachium in nineteen patients. Group I consisted of seven patients in whom transfer of the latissimus dorsi was used only to obtain active flexion of the elbow. Although there was complete necrosis of the transferred muscle in one patient, six patients achieved an average of 111 degrees of active flexion and full extension of the elbow. There was only a modest gain in active supination because of pre-existing pronation contractures. The three patients in Group II had sustained loss of the flexor muscles of the elbow and the overlying soft tissue as a result of trauma. After the latissimus dorsi musculocutaneous flexorplasty, an average of 135 degrees of active flexion of the elbow was restored, but there was an average loss of 12 degrees of extension. The three patients in Group III had a large, noninfected defect of the soft tissue over the shoulder or brachium; the bone, shoulder joint, or neurovascular structures were exposed in each patient. Transfer of the latissimus dorsi with the overlying skin provided satisfactory coverage of the defect. The six patients in Group IV had chronic osteomyelitis or septic arthritis of the glenohumeral joint. Treatment consisted of radical débridement of the infected soft tissue and bone followed by transfer of the latissimus dorsi. This provided satisfactory coverage for subsequent osteosynthesis of the humerus or arthrodesis of the shoulder when one of these procedures was indicated. At the time of writing, an average of 2.3 years after the latissimus dorsi transfer, none of the patients in this group (including one who died nine months post-operatively of unrelated causes) had drainage.

University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Ohio.

Copyright © 1988 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Incorporated
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