Background: The perforators of the free lateral femoral condyle flap have yet to be adequately described in humans. Therefore, the authors investigated the perforator vessels of the lateral femoral condyle flap in an anatomical study and discussed potential clinical applications with a particular interest in its indication with vascularized bone and/or iliotibial band for tendon repair surgery. Methods: The authors dissected thighs of 28 cadavers to evaluate the anatomical properties of perforator vessels that branch from the superior lateral genicular artery and supply bone, cartilage, subcutaneous tissue, and the iliotibial band of the lateral femoral condyle. Results: In each dissected thigh, the superior lateral genicular artery was present and the average pedicle length was 38 ± 10 mm. The average diameter of the superior lateral genicular artery, proximal to its distribution into the deep articular and superficial patellar branches, was 2 ± 0.5 mm. A communication between deep articular and superficial patellar branches was seen in 96 percent of the dissected thighs. In 24 cases (86 percent), the authors were able to show the iliotibial band perforating vessel and harvest a free lateral femoral condyle flap as an osteochondral fasciocutaneous bone flap with vascularized tendon. Conclusions: Altogether, the authors' results indicate that the blood supply of the lateral femoral condyle flap is consistent and the lateral femoral condyle flap could serve as a free composite flap for complex indications in hand or limb reconstructive surgery. Clinical studies to compare the lateral femoral condyle to other well-established microsurgical free flaps are warranted.
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