Long-term follow-up of donor site morbidity after defect coverage with Integra following radial forearm flap elevation

Wirthmann, Anna ; Finke, Juliane ; Giovanoli, Pietro ; Lindenblatt, Nicole

In: European Journal of Plastic Surgery, 2014, vol. 37, no. 3, p. 159-166

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    Background: The radial forearm flap (RFF) is known for its excellent and reliable results regarding defect coverage though donor site morbidity represents a persisting problem. Integra is widely used in reconstructive surgery. This study aims to assess long-term outcomes regarding functionality and cosmesis after donor site coverage with respect to esthetic appearance, scar quality, and wrist function as well as ability to work after donor site coverage with Integra and split-thickness skin. Methods: The prospective follow-up exam, after a mean time of 23.8months, enrolled 13 patients. Identification of patients' comorbidities and evaluation of the subjective esthetic outcome, sensibility, cold intolerance, and scar instability was assessed by a questionnaire. In clinics, designed Pinch test assessed scar tissue mobility over the flexor tendons. The Vancouver Scar Scale (VSS) was calculated; wrist function and grip strength were determined. Results: The satisfaction score for the esthetic appearance of the donor site was in average 3.42 ± 0.44. Two patients experienced an unstable scar and cold intolerance. The VSS resulted in a value of 4.2 representing a good result. The pinch test revealed an average scar mobility of 8mm without any tendon adhesions. Active range of motion of the wrist was equal to the non-operated site as was grip strength. The pinch test showed a significant negative correlation with the VSS making it a reliable tool to measure scar quality. Conclusion: Long-term results show an esthetic and functional successful defect coverage of the RFF donor site by the use of Integra and split-thickness skin. Level of Evidence: Level IV, therapeutic study.