Background The use of the venous flap for simultaneous revascularization and coverage of soft tissue defects has been documented in the literature for over 30 years. First described in 1981, Nakayama et al demonstrated that a vein and overlying skin, or a venous flap, may be transposed from one area of the body to another with complete survival of the graft. The aim of this study was to conduct a systematic review of the literature to determine predictors of venous flap survival in traumatic hand injuries. Methods A literature search of PubMed, MEDLINE, and Cochrane Library was performed with emphasis on venous flap use in traumatic hand injuries. MeSH terms included: vein graft, revascularization, venous flow through flap, arterialized venous flap, bypass, replantation, amputation, avulsion, trauma, injury, amputate, finger, hand, and thumb. Results Forty-three articles were collected that contained data on 626 free venous flaps. Most patients were males (73.9) and injured their right hand (52.3%). The forearm was the most commonly used venous flap donor site (83.6%), and most of the skin paddles were 10 to 25 cm 2 (41.1%). Arterial inflow was used in 93.1% of the flaps. Most venous flaps (79.6%) healed without superficial tissue loss or necrosis. Ninety-two (14.7%) flaps had partial loss while 36 (5.8%) flaps did not survive. Conclusion The use of venous flaps for concomitant revascularization and soft tissue coverage of the hand permits good results with limited morbidity. The overall flap survival rate is nearly 95%. Younger patients whose flaps have arterial inflow and skin paddles of medium size (10-25 cm 2) have the best chance for survival.
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