The muscle-sparing descending branch latissimus dorsi muscle (MSLD) flap is a versatile flap with numerous benefits. It is an often overlooked but useful option when considering free flap donors. In this article, the authors present the largest experience with the MSLD flap, with focus on its use in lower extremity reconstruction.
Patients undergoing lower extremity reconstruction with the MSLD flap at a single institution from 2012 to 2017 were identified. Patient and wound characteristics, surgical details, complications, and outcomes were examined. Outcomes were compared to a cohort who underwent lower extremity reconstruction with other free muscle flaps during the same period.
Thirty-six consecutive patients who underwent MSLD flap surgery were identified. Mean follow-up was 18.8 months. Mean body mass index was 29.2 kg/m2 and 56 percent were smokers. The most common wound causes were motor vehicle collision (46 percent) and fall (22 percent). The most common anatomical location was the distal third of the tibia (33 percent). Mean operative time was 380 minutes. Complications included three total losses (8 percent) and one partial loss (3 percent). No donor-site seromas were reported. Four patients required subsequent amputation for orthopedic issues (nonunion/pain). Patients receiving MSLD and other flaps had similar rates of amputation, donor- and recipient-site complications, and ambulation status (p > 0.05).
The MSLD flap is a useful and reliable option for free flap reconstruction of the lower extremity. Advantages include an easily contourable flap, low revision rate, low complication rate, and the ability to harvest in supine position. In addition, the MSLD flap preserves donor function useful for rehabilitation and minimizes seroma risk.
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