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Cirugía Plástica Ibero-Latinoamericana

versión On-line ISSN 1989-2055versión impresa ISSN 0376-7892


SANCHEZ CABALLERO, Joaquín  y  ROJAS CHAVES, Sebastián. Intercostal perforator flaps in upper limbs reconstruction as an alternative in middle and low-income countries. Cir. plást. iberolatinoam. [online]. 2020, vol.46, n.3, pp.335-342.  Epub 07-Dic-2020. ISSN 1989-2055.

Background and objective.

Perforator flaps are a reconstructive surgery technique that uses a portion of skin and/or subcutaneous fat tissue vascularized by one or more vessels that perforate a deep plane (muscle, fascia or septum), which is removed from a distant or adjacent part to close and restore the excised section. This procedure allows reconstruction using appropriate structures without devitalizing the donor area.

The aim of this report is to describe the experience in the closure and reconstruction of traumatic forearm and hand wounds using pedicled flaps of perforating intercostal arteries from lateral, dorsolateral and/or anterior vessels, as an accessible, functional and aesthetically viable option, in low- and middle-income countries where other alternatives such as Microsurgery are not frequently accessible.


We describe 3 procedures to exemplify reconstruction by using different types of intercostal perforator flaps as an alternative to surgical amputation of extensive traumatic upper limb injuries that, due to complexity, compromise their viability. The selection of cases corresponds to patients attended in one of the 3 referral hospitals of Social Security of a middle-income country, Costa Rica, where Microsurgery is not usually available.


All cases corresponded to male patients. Case 1: 19-year-old patient who, after a car accident, presented an exposed fracture and an extensive forearm injury that compromised skin and soft tissue; reconstruction with a 32 x 12 cm LICAP flap. Case 2: 21-year-old patient who, after a traffic accident, presented significant trauma to the elbow and hand; reconstruction with a left 8 x 10 cm AICAP flap and a right 20 x 12 cm LICAP flap. Case 3: 32-year-old patient presenting loss of the anterior aspect of the right forearm after an accident with a glass window; he required prior vascular intervention and was subsequently treated with a 30 x 10 cm LICAP flap. In all cases, flaps with 2 perforators were used and autonomization was performed 3 weeks after the intervention. Likewise, adequate wound closure, flap evolution without complications, and recovery of functionality were recorded.


In scenarios where healthcare resources are limited and the newest therapeutic alternatives are not always available, our experience, supported by the 3 cases described, shows how the use of intercostal perforating flaps constitutes a viable alternative in the reconstruction of upper limbs after trauma, especially in low- and middle-income countries.

Palabras clave : Intercostal perforator flap; Upper limb; Upper limb reconstruction; Arm reconstruction; Hand reconstruction.

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