The free or pedicled anterolateral thigh flap was introduced for the reconstruction of large abdominal wall defects. This flap is superior to the tensor fasciae latae musculocutaneous flap in several respects. These include the wide, reliable skin territory (which can reach the level of the knee) and the long pedicle. Therefore, a pedicled anterolateral thigh flap with reliable blood circulation can easily be positioned above the umbilicus. In addition, the free anterolateral thigh flap has greater freedom of orientation and can be used to repair larger abdominal wall defects than can the tensor fasciae lame flap. Seven patients in whom abdominal wall defects had been reconstructed with pedicled or free anterolateral thigh flaps were reviewed. Their average age was 47.1 years (range, 21 to 74 years), and the average follow-up period was 10.7 months (range, 2 to 21 months). The size of the abdominal wall defects ranged from 12 X 12 cm to 18 x 24 cm, and the size of the transferred flap ranged from 10 X 20 cm to 20 X 20 cm. Three flaps were pedicled and four were free, of which three incorporated the tensor fasciae latae flap. All flaps survived completely, and no postoperative abdominal hernias developed. Despite some variations in vascular anatomy and technical difficulties in elevating the anterolateral thigh flap, the authors conclude that the pedicled or free anterolateral thigh flap is superior to the tensor fasciae latae flap for reconstruction of large abdominal wall defects.
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