Radial Artery Pedicle Flap To Cover Exposed Mesh After Abdominal Wound Dehiscence-An Easy Solution To A Difficult Problem
S Tripathy, N Nathani, A Khan, M Ansari, S Sharma, R Kumar
abdominal wound dehiscence, exposed mesh, radial artery pedicled flap
S Tripathy, N Nathani, A Khan, M Ansari, S Sharma, R Kumar. Radial Artery Pedicle Flap To Cover Exposed Mesh After Abdominal Wound Dehiscence-An Easy Solution To A Difficult Problem. The Internet Journal of Plastic Surgery. 2008 Volume 6 Number 1.
Abdominal wall dehiscence poses a difficult problem to treat. It is ever difficult to treat an exposed mesh when it is utmost important to retain it to give strength to the abdominal wall. Many flaps have described in literature. Each flap has limited area of reach on the abdominal wall.A 55 year old thin built man had undergone operation for perforation peritonitis. Post operatively the wound gaped exposing bowel. Closure of burst abdomen was done by a mesh 30X30 cm. After 3 days of operation abdominal wound again developed superficial dehiscence, skin margins necrosed leaving a gap of 13X 7 cm of exposed mesh.A radial artery pedicled flap planned from the left forearm was used to cover the exposed mesh. Flap detachment and insetting was done after 3 weeks with good aesthetic result and acceptable donor site scar.
A 55 year old male of thin built reported to casualty of J.N.Medical college and Hospital , Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh with pain and distension of abdomen. Clinical and radiological study confirmed perforation peritonitis.
Patient was operated and duodenal perforation was closed by modified Graham repair.
Post operatively, patient had serous discharge from the main wound and the wound gaped. Then complete burst abdomen developed with evisceration of small bowel.
Subsequent surgery was undertaken when the infection was controlled. Burst wound was closed with in-lay (size 30X 30 cm) poly propylene mesh after cutting its corners
After 3 days of surgery, skin stitches start giving way and by 7 th day whole of the incision gaped exposing 13 X 7 cm of the mesh.
Radial artery based fasciocutaneous flap was planned from the left forearm after confirming the patency of the palmar arch by Allen’s test .
Flap was elevated based proximally and secured into the defect. Donor area was covered with split thickness graft.
Pedicle was divided after 3 weeks and insetting was done.
A small area of mesh of size (0.5 X0.5) cm was still left exposed which healed with secondary intention.
Flap survived well and the donor area was also aesthetically acceptable.
Wound dehiscence is a difficult problem to treat.Careful evaluation of the patient who presents with abdominal wall dehiscence reveals inadequate local fascial and muscular layers due to prior tissue loss; muscle denervation or vascular insufficiency due to prior irradiation or infection; wound infection; obesity; Chronic pulmonary disease, malnutrition, sepsis, anemia, corticosteroid dependency and/or concurrent malignant process as predisposing factors. Reconstruction of anterior abdominal wall is based on six basic principles.
The anatomy of the abdominal wall and adjacent donor sites must be understood clearly including the complete knowledge of the neurovascular anatomy, the arc of rotation of each subunit.
The defect has to be exposed completely before definitive closure.
Abdominal domain is restored with some sort of support.
Reassigning local tissue to close the defect.
If not possible, distant tissue cover is planned.
Skin involved is readjusted and closed
The techniques used for abdominal wall reconstruction range from simple skin grafting to free flap reconstruction.Treatment needs to be individualized to suit the condition of the patient and to provide the best functional and cosmetic result with minimal morbidity.Different modalities include:
Primary closure without tension
Vacuum –assisted closure
Skin and fascial grafts
Local skin flaps
Skin graft over mesh/ omentum/ viscerae
Pedicled muscle and myocutaneous flaps
Once the mesh is exposed as in this case one of the options is removal of mesh 1 and primary closure which was not possible in this case because of previous surgery and infection.Vacuum assisted closure 2 was not possible because of the huge size of the exposed mesh which needed a cover early. We could have waited for granulation tissue cover over mesh and then split thickness grafting over it, which is a time consuming procedure .Moreover, mesh is often reported to extrude through graft in a majority of the cases 3 apart from poor cosmesis and recurrent hernia ( 9% cases).Relaxing incisions over transverse abdominis and external oblique muscles and subsequent medial advancement (local flaps) 4 could have achieved closure without tension, but not possible in this case because of previous surgery leading to fibrosis , loss of tissue planes and the use of a big mesh(30X30 cm) covering large area of abdominal wall.
So here, the only options left were to cover with distant tissues either with pedicled flaps or free flaps. Free flaps need microvascular expertise and not available at all the places, hence pedicled flaps considered as a better option. Different pedicled flaps frequently used for abdominal wall reconstruction are tensor fascia lata, rectus femoris flaps for lower abdomen and latissimus dorsi, external oblique and rectus abdominis flaps are good options for upper abdomen. 7
A flap based on left radial artery in the present case produced with early satisfactory coverage which is a thin, fasciocutaneous flap, blends well with abdominal contour and is a good option for cover.
Flap is reliable with robust blood supply.
It gives a thin flap for cover, hence, aesthetically acceptable.
Unlike musculocutaneous flap, any quadrant of the abdomen can be covered.
Two stage procedures; the pedicle is divided after 3 weeks.
It sacrifices one of the major vessels of the hand.
Inspite of above mentioned disadvantages, radial artery flap is good choice when other regional and distant flaps are not possible.
In view of the minimum morbidity, the radial artery base flap is a good option and is recommended in selected cases, especially with large exposed mesh over abdomen, however its limitation- two stage procedures and sacrifice of a major vessel must always be remembered.