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Journal of the Korean Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons 2009;36(5):605-610.
Published online September 1, 2009.
Reconstruction of Soft Tissue Defects after Snake Bites.
Jang Hyun Lee, Soo Won Jang, Cheol Hann Kim, Hee Chang Ahn, Matthew Seung Suk Choi
1Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, College of Medicine, Hanyang University, Seoul, Korea. msschoi@hanyang.ac.kr
2Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, College of Medicine, Soonchunhyang University, Seoul, Korea.
Substantial tissue necrosis after snake bites requiring coverage with flap surgery is extremely rare. In this article, we report 7 cases of soft tissue defects in the upper and the lower extremities caused by snake bites, which needed to be covered with flaps. Among the vast mass of publications on snake bites there has been no report that focuses on flap coverage of soft tissue defects due to snake bite sequelae. METHODS: Seven cases of soft tissue defects in tendon, ligament, or bone exposure after snake bites were included. All patients were males without comorbidities, the average age was 35 years. All of them required coverage with a flap. In 6 cases, the defects were localized on the upper extremity, in one case the lesion was on the lower extremity. Local flaps were used in 6 cases, one case was covered with a free flap. The surgical procedures included one kite flap, one cross finger flap and digital nerve reconstruction with a sural nerve graft, one reverse proximal phalanx island flap, one groin flap, one adipofascial flap, one neurovascular island flap, and one anterolateral thigh free flap. The average interval from injury to flap surgery was 23.7 days.
All flaps survived without complication. All patients regained a good range of motion in the affected extremity. Donor site morbidities were not observed. The case with digital nerve reconstruction recovered a static two point discrimination of 7mm. The patient with foot reconstruction can wear normal shoes without a debulking procedure.
The majority of soft tissue affection after snake bites can be treated conservatively. Some severe cases, however, may require the coverage with flap surgery after radical debridement, especially, if there is exposure of tendon, bone or neurovascular structures. There is no doubt that definite coverage should be performed as soon as possible. But we also want to point out that this principle must not lead to a premature coverage. If the surgeon is not certain that the wound is free of necrotic tissue or remnants of venom, it is better to take enough time to get a proper wound before flap surgery in order to obtain a good functional and cosmetic result.
Keywords: Snake bite; Soft tissue defect; Flap
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