Routine donor leg angiography before vascularized free fibula transplantation is not necessary: A prospective study in 120 clinical cases

Barbara S. Lutz, Fu Chan Wei*, Shu Hang Ng, I. How Chen, Samuel H.T. Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

110 Scopus citations


To evaluate the value of routine preoperative angiographies of donor sites, 120 patients with free fibula osteoseptocutaneous flap transplantations were included in this prospective study, which consisted of preoperative evaluation of dorsalis pedis and tibial posterior artery pulsation and angiographies of the donor legs (120 patients) and contralateral legs (111 patients). Both pedal pulses were palpable in 114 patients, and only one pulse was palpable in six patients. The respective nonpalpable foot pulses were detectable with pencil Doppler in five patients, but they were not detectable in one patient. Intraoperatively, the latter patient had a relatively hypertrophied peroneal artery as compared with both the tibial posterior and tibial anterior arteries. The angiographic result was arteria peronea magna. The other five patients showed intraoperatively and angiographically normal-sized major arteries of the lower leg. In three patients with normal pedal pulses, hypoplasias of either the tibial anterior or tibial posterior arteries were found intraoperatively. These findings corresponded with the angiographical results. In all patients (n = 119), except one with peroneal artery hemangioma, free osteoseptocutaneous fibula flap was harvested from the originally planned leg without subsequent sequelae to the respective donor leg. In 231 leg angiographies, only 7 cases (3 percent) with abnormal-sized major lower leg arteries were described. The diagnoses in these cases were hypoplasia of either the tibial posterior or tibial anterior artery (4 cases), arteria peronea magna (2 cases, one of which was a false positive), absence of peroneal artery combined with hypoplastic tibial posterior artery (1 case), and hemangioma of the peroneal artery (1 case). From this prospective study, it was determined that routine preoperative angiography of the donor leg before fibula transplantation is not justified. It does not add relevant new information about donor leg vascularity, provided that the clinical evaluation of the pedal pulses is well conducted. The only two conditions that may require a preoperative donor leg angiography are abnormal pedal pulses or significant previous lower leg trauma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-127
Number of pages7
JournalPlastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - 01 1999


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