The gastrocnemius muscle remains the workhorse for providing soft tissue over the knee and upper tibia. Nevertheless, we have found the island posterior calf fasciocutaneous flap to be a valuable alternative. We describe 10 cases in which an island posterior calf fasciocutaneous flap was used to cover defects over the knee and tibia. Three cases were after knee arthroplasty wound dehiscence, three cases were of traumatic soft-tissue loss, three cases involved replacement of unstable skin, and one case required closing a synovial fistula. This series is compared with 10 contemporaneous consecutive cases of soft-tissue loss around the knee that were reconstructed with a gastrocnemius muscle flap. Nine posterior calf fasciocutaneous flaps survived completely, and one flap had to be replaced because of poor flow. Although this flap is technically more demanding, we have found that it offers some advantages over the gastrocnemius. These include a greater flexibility of size and shape, a longer arc of rotation to reach suprapatellar defects, the provision of sensate skin with protective though crude sensation, less bulk, and the avoidance of a twitch. The flap is also easy to re-elevate from the recipient site for subsequent orthopedic work. (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 101: 1529, 1998.)
A. A. Quaba Department of Plastic Surgery St. John's Hospital Livingston EH54 6PP, Scotland
From the Department of Plastic Surgery at St. John's Hospital. Received for publication November 2, 1996; revised July 2, 1997.