Anatomical Study of the Popliteal Artery Perforator–Based Propeller Flap and Its Clinical Application

There is lack of anatomical information regarding the cutaneous perforator of the popliteal artery and its connections with the descending branch of the inferior gluteal and profunda femoris arteries. The authors aimed to evaluate the anatomical basis of the popliteal artery perforator–based propeller flap from the posterior thigh region and to demonstrate their experience using this flap. Ten fresh cadaveric lower extremities were dissected following injection of a silicone compound into the femoral artery. The authors investigated the number, location, length, and diameter of cutaneous perforators of the popliteal artery. Based on the results, the authors treated three cases with a large soft-tissue defect around the knee using a popliteal artery perforator–based propeller flap. The authors found a mean of 1.9 cutaneous perforators arising from the popliteal artery, with a mean pedicle length of 6 cm and a mean arterial internal diameter of 0.9 mm, which were located at an average of 4 cm proximal to the bicondylar line. The most distal perforator consistently arose along the small saphenous vein and connected proximally with the concomitant artery of the posterior femoral cutaneous nerve, forming a connection with perforating arteries of the profunda femoris artery. A mean of 4.5 cutaneous perforators branched from the arterial connection sites. All clinical cases healed without any complications. The popliteal artery perforator–based propeller flap is reliable for reconstruction of soft-tissue defects around the knee. The flap should include the deep fascia and concomitant artery along with the posterior femoral cutaneous nerve for maintaining the blood supply.

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