Vascularized Bone Flap Options for Complex Thoracic Spinal Reconstruction

Malke Asaad, Matthew T. Houdek, Tony C.T. Huang, Peter S. Rose, Steven L. Moran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Osseous reconstruction following total spondylectomy/vertebrectomy in the thoracic spine is indicated to restore spinal stability. To assist with bony reconstruction, vascularized bone flaps including free vascularized fibula flaps and pedicled rib flaps can be used. However, there are limited data comparing various techniques. The authors aimed to evaluate the outcomes of free vascularized fibula flaps and pedicled rib flaps used for thoracic spinal reconstruction. Methods: The authors reviewed 44 vascularized bone flaps [10 anterior pedicled rib flaps, 25 posterior pedicled rib flaps, and nine vascularized fibula flaps] for corpectomy defects spanning T1 to L1 between January of 1999 and June of 2018. Mean age and follow-up were 46 ±17 years and 74 ± 52 months, respectively. Results: The union rate was 93 percent, with a similar mean time to union among the three groups: free vascularized fibula flaps, 9 ± 4 months; anterior pedicled rib flaps, 9 ± 6 months; and posterior pedicled rib flaps, 9 ± 5 months (p = 0.95). Surgical-site complications were found in 27 vascularized bone flaps (61 percent), and reoperations and revisions were performed in 14 (32 percent) and 10 (23 percent) vascularized bone flaps, respectively. No differences were identified among anterior pedicled rib flaps, posterior pedicled rib flaps, and vascularized fibula flaps with regard to complication, reoperation, and revision rates. Conclusions: Free vascularized fibula flaps and pedicled rib flaps provide durable reconstruction for thoracic spinal defects. Union, time to union, revision, and reoperation rates were similar among anterior and posterior pedicled rib flaps and vascularized fibula flaps. Given the variability in indication and defect types among the flap cohorts, the authors' results should be interpreted carefully as an insight into the outcomes of different vascularized bone flaps for the unique cases of thoracic spinal reconstruction rather than to compare the different flaps used. CLINICAL QUESTION/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Therapeutic, III.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)515E-525E
JournalPlastic and reconstructive surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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