Purpose: The aim of this report is to compare free perforator flaps and propeller flaps in the coverage of lower limb soft tissue defects. Patients and methods: 179 patients (age between 5 and 92 years old), underwent soft tissue reconstruction of the lower limb between January 2009 and January 2015, either by free flap or propeller flap. The two groups were retrospectively evaluated in order to assess the outcome, complications and potential risk factors. Correlations between risk factors and presence/absence of failure or complications have been evaluated with descriptive statistical analysis and a set of logistic regression models. Finally, an economic analysis was conducted to evaluate the different tecniques. Results: In a simple descriptive statistical analysis, the overall failure rate is 6% for free flaps and 3.7% for propeller flaps; the complication rates are 14% vs 21.5% and it increases as dimension increases. The logistic models relating failure and complications with potential risk factors do not show significant differences, whereas the economic analysis show that the average expense of free flaps is 5077.5€ per patient, 1595.6€ per patient for propeller flaps. Conclusions: Our results do not demonstrate significant differences between the two groups about correlation of risk factors or flap size with complication or failure. The surgical option choice should be taken only after accurate evaluation of the soft tissue surrounding the defect. Propeller flaps should be preferred in case of small/medium size defects in otherwise healthy extremities. Free perforator flaps should be the choice in large defects due to trauma or vascular diseases. The economic analysis suggests that propeller flap should be considered when possible.
Free perforator flaps vs propeller flaps in lower limb reconstruction: A cost/effectiveness analysis on a series of 179 cases / Innocenti M.; Dell'Acqua I.; Famiglietti M.; Vignini L.; Menichini G.; Ghezzi S.. - In: INJURY. - ISSN 0020-1383. - STAMPA. - 50:(2019), pp. S11-S16. [10.1016/j.injury.2019.10.039]