Although the palm is spared mostly in severe burn injuries, it often is affected in children and requires radical excision of contracting scar tissue to allow normal hand development. Since alternatives are limited for palmar coverage, we primarily use a reverse-perfused, neurocutaneous dorsal ulnar artery flap. We report here our long-term follow-up results.
We reviewed the long-term results of 10 postburn palmar contracture release and flap coverage procedures in 10 children. The applied flap was based distally on the dorsal branch of the ulnar artery and harvested along the ulnar aspect of the hand and wrist. The pivot point of the flap was located dorsally, close to the 4th and 5th metacarpal base. Patients were followed for a median period of 6 years (range, 4–20 years).
Flap size ranged from 60–130 mm in length and 20–35 mm in width. This variation in flap dimensions resulted from different hand sizes, because of the various patient ages at surgery. All flaps survived, donor site healing was uneventful, and marginal flap necrosis occurred only once. Satisfactory restoration of range of motion without secondary contractures was observed. Moreover, we detected adequate progressive growth, adaptability and sensory recovery in all flaps. Over time, the flaps mostly become hairless and progressively flattened without debulking.
The importance of this flap lies in the potential for considerable tissue mobilization to cover palmar defects without sacrificing any major vascular axis. The adequate progressive growth of the flap facilitates functional hand development in children. The predictable vascular anatomy, wide range, and durable, thin, and pliable skin make the reverse neurocutaneous dorsal ulnar artery flap an appealing option for soft tissue reconstruction of the palm in children.
Type of study/level of evidence
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Published online: October 19, 2022
Accepted: September 1, 2022
Received: April 12, 2022
No benefits in any form have been received or will be received related directly or indirectly to the subject of this article.
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