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Keywords:

  • free flaps;
  • sural flap;
  • microsurgery;
  • sural nerve

Combined extended nerve and soft tissue defects of the upper extremity require nerve reconstruction and adequate soft tissue coverage. This study focuses on the reliability of the free vascularized sural nerve graft combined with a fasciocutaneous posterior calf flap within this indication. An anatomical study was performed on 26 cadaveric lower extremities that had been Thiel fixated and color silicone injected. Dissection of the fasciocutaneous posterior calf flap involved the medial sural nerve and superficial sural artery (SSA) with its septocutaneous perforators, extended laterally to include the lateral cutaneous branch of the sural nerve and continued to the popliteal origin of the vascular pedicle and the nerves. The vessel and nerves diameter were measured with an eyepiece reticle at 4.5× magnification. Length and diameter of the nerves and vessels were carefully assessed and reported in the dissection book. A total of 26 flaps were dissected. The SSA originated from the medial sural artery (13 cases), the popliteal artery (12 cases), or the lateral sural artery (one case). The average size of the SSA was 1.4 ± 0.4 mm. The mean pedicle length before the artery joined the sural nerve was 4.5 ± 1.9 cm. A comitant vein was present in 21 cases with an average diameter of 2.0 ± 0.8 mm, in 5 cases a separate vein needed to be dissected with an average diameter of 3.5 ± 0.4 mm. The mean medial vascularized sural nerve length was 21.2 ± 8.9 cm. Because of inclusion of the vascularized part of the lateral branch of the sural nerve (mean length of 16.7 ± 4.8 cm), a total of 35.0 ± 9.6 cm mean length of vascularized nerve could be gained from each extremity. The free vascularized sural nerve graft combined with a fasciocutaneous posterior calf flap pedicled on the SSA offers a reliable solution for complex tissue and nerve defect. Clin. Anat. 26:903–910, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.