After studying this article, the participant should: 1. Be familiar with local, regional, and free flaps for reconstruction of the hand. 2. Be able to identify potential sources of tissue for vascularized coverage using an algorithmic approach to provide stable and functional reconstruction of the hand. 3. Recognize the controversies and complications unique to flap reconstruction of the hand.
The goal of this continuing medical education module is to provide the practicing reconstructive surgeon with a framework in which to think about reconstruction of the hand. The hand has unique functional and aesthetic characteristics that must be considered when choosing the optimal methods for reconstruction. There are a number of reliable local and regional flaps that can be used to treat the hand requiring soft-tissue coverage and/or vascularized bone graft. The “reconstructive ladder,” originally described by Mathes and Nahai, is based on the principle of using the simplest approach that adequately restores form and ideally optimizes function. In cases where the simplest techniques prove to be inadequate, local and regional flaps and, ultimately, microsurgical tissue transfer should be considered.