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Plastic Surgery International
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 2841816, 8 pages
Research Article

Maximizing Outcomes While Minimizing Morbidity: An Illustrated Case Review of Elbow Soft Tissue Reconstruction

Department of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery, Singapore General Hospital, Singapore 169608

Received 20 August 2015; Accepted 2 December 2015

Academic Editor: Nicolo Scuderi

Copyright © 2016 Adrian Ooi et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. Injuries to the elbow have led to consequences varying from significant limitation in function to loss of the entire upper limb. Soft tissue reconstruction with durable and pliable coverage balanced with the ability to mobilize the joint early to optimize rehabilitation outcomes is paramount. Methods. Methods of flap reconstruction have evolved from local and pedicled flaps to perforator-based flaps and free tissue transfer. Here we performed a review of 20 patients who have undergone flap reconstruction of the elbow at our institution. Discussion. 20 consecutive patients were identified and included in this study. Flap types include local (), regional pedicled (), and free () flaps. The average size of defect was 138 cm2 (range 36–420 cm2). There were no flap failures in our series, and, at follow-up, the average range of movement of elbow flexion was 100°. Results. While the pedicled latissimus dorsi flap is the workhorse for elbow soft tissue coverage, advancements in microvascular knowledge and surgery have brought about great benefit, with the use of perforator flaps and free tissue transfer for wound coverage. Conclusion. We present here our case series on elbow reconstruction and an abbreviated algorithm on flap choice, highlighting our decision making process in the selection of safe flap choice for soft tissue elbow reconstruction.