The current treatment of extremity sarcomas is multimodal, consisting of limb-sparing surgery, adjuvant radiotherapy, and/or chemotherapy. This approach has decreased the need for amputations and increased the demand for coverage of large composite defects. To date, the role of microsurgery in lower extremity reconstruction after oncologic resection has not been well defined. This study reviews a single center's experience with free tissue transfer for reconstruction of the lower extremity after oncologic resection. Fifty-nine free flaps were performed in 57 patients over a 5-year period. Forty-six patients (78%) underwent primary reconstruction and 35 patients (61%) received adjuvant therapy. Overall flap success rate was 96.6%. Most flaps were soft-tissue types including musculocutaneous (78%), skin only (11%), and muscle plus skin graft (4%). Osteocutaneous flaps were uncommon. There were major complications in 12% and minor complications in 7%. This study demonstrates that free tissue transfer for lower extremity reconstruction following oncologic resection has a high success rate that is similar to other free flap applications. It has become an integral part of lower extremity sarcoma management. Free flaps permit uninterrupted adjuvant therapy and enhance the efficacy of limb salvage surgery.
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