Introduction Free tissue transfer is a rarely indicated procedure in burns. However, in well selected cases it may play a pivotal role in optimizing outcomes in both primary and secondary burn reconstruction. We undertook a systematic review, based on the PRISMA statement for systematic reviews, of all published literature relating to the use of free flaps in acute burns and in secondary reconstructive procedures. Methods Inclusion and exclusion criteria were defined and Medline, Embase, PubMed and Google Scholar databases were searched from 1980 onwards to May 2013 with the search terms: "free flaps", "free tissue transfer", "microvascular", "burns", "acute burns", "primary reconstruction" and "secondary reconstruction". Results A total of 346 studies were retrieved following the search of which 30 studies met the inclusion criteria and were included in the review. Discussion We present the indications, timing, complications and failure rates for free flaps in primary and secondary reconstruction based on the available literature. We also provide a list of the various free flap options for the commonest sites undergoing reconstruction following burns. Finally an algorithm to ensure optimal success of free flaps when used in primary and in secondary burn reconstruction is presented.
- Free tissue transfer
- Systematic review
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Emergency Medicine
- Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine