Is the Medial Sural Artery Perforator Flap a New Workhorse Flap? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

The medial sural artery perforator flap offers thin, pliable tissue with a relatively long pedicle and low donor-site morbidity. This study explores the characteristics and uses of the medial sural artery perforator flap along with postoperative outcomes and complications.
A systematic literature review was performed using PubMed, Embase, and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials to identify all cases of medial sural artery perforator flap reconstruction. Descriptive and meta-analyses were performed on pooled outcomes. Multivariate logistic regression identified factors associated with increased complication rates.
Thirty-five studies encompassing 526 medial sural artery perforator flaps were included for analysis. The most common reasons for surgery were oncologic (47.6 percent) and traumatic injuries (31.8 percent). The oral cavity was the most common recipient location (45.5 percent). Average flap dimensions were 6.0 ± 2.3 cm × 9.8 ± 3.6 cm, with an average pedicle length of 10.1 ± 6.6 cm. Meta-analysis revealed an overall complication rate of 14.3 percent (Q value = 22.16; p = 0.877; I2= −39.9). Use of chimeric medial sural artery perforator flaps was associated with significantly higher rates of complications (OR, 3.92; p = 0.039; 95 percent CI, 1.10 to 13.89). The majority of flap donor sites were closed primarily (68 percent) versus 32 percent that were covered with split-thickness skin grafts. A flap width greater than 5.75 cm had an odds ratio of 5.3 (95 percent CI, 1.3 to 21.8; p = 0.014) of having a donor-site complication if closed primarily.
The medial sural artery perforator flap offers thin, pliable tissue with a relatively long pedicle and has minimal donor-site morbidity when the donor site is managed appropriately. As such, it should be considered a workhorse flap for both head and neck and extremity reconstruction.

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