Research Article| Volume 50, ISSUE 6, P495-499, September 2012

Comparison of sensory recovery at the subfascial and suprafascial donor sites of the free radial flap

Published:November 14, 2011DOI:


      The radial flap may be raised using a subfascial or suprafascial approach. The latter donor site is associated with fewer healing complications. We retrospectively evaluated the quality of sensory recovery within two comparable groups of 30 patients with subfascial and suprafascial donor sites. When considering the two groups, two-point discrimination was the modality most commonly reduced, with 97% of patients in both groups having reduced sensation in at least one anatomical zone. Sensation of sharp touch was most often lost; 90% in the subfascial and 83% in the suprafascial groups lost sensation in at least one anatomical zone. Roughly half the patients had reduced perception of light touch (43% and 50%), whilst perception of heat (27% and 17%) and cold (33% and 27%) were lost least often. At least one modality in at least one anatomical zone was lost or reduced in all patients, and roughly two-thirds (73% and 63%) had a reduction in 3 or more. The only significant difference between the donor and non-donor arms was reduced perception of sharp touch in the anterior forearm in both groups (p < 0.001). Perception at the two sites (including the anatomical snuff box) was similar except for superior thenar palmar light touch (p = 0.015) in the suprafascial group, which may indicate injury to the thenar cutaneous sensory branches during subfascial dissection.


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