Reconstruction of gustilo type IIIc injuries of the lower extremity

Joseph A. Ricci, Salma A. Abdou, John T. Stranix, Z. Hye Lee, Lavinia Anzai, Vishal D. Thanik, Pierre B. Saadeh, Jamie P. Levine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background: Gustilo type IIIC open tibia fractures are characterized by an ischemic limb requiring immediate arterial repair. In this patient population, the decision between primary amputation and limb salvage can be challenging. This study aims to evaluate the reconstructive outcomes of patients with Gustilo type IIIC injuries. Methods: A single-center retrospective review of 806 lower extremity free flaps from 1976 to 2016 was performed. Flap loss and salvage rates for patients with Gustilo type IIIC injuries were determined. To determine the utility of performing salvage in this group, outcomes of the IIIC reconstructions were compared to those of similar patients with Gustilo I type IIB injuries with only a single patent vessel. Results: A total of 32 patients with Gustilo type IIIC injuries underwent reconstruction after traumatic injury. Ten patients (31.3 percent) experienced a perioperative complication, including seven unplanned returns to the operating room (21.9 percent), three partial flap losses (9.4 percent), and five complete flap losses (15.6 percent). When type IIIC injuries were compared with single-vessel Gustilo type IIIB injuries, no statistically significant differences were noted with respect to major perioperative complications (p = 0.527), unplanned return to the operating room (p = 0.06), partial flap loss (p = 0.209), complete flap loss (p = 0.596), or salvage rate (p = 0.368). Although this result was not statistically significant, Gustilo type IIIC injuries trended toward lower take-back rates and higher salvage rates compared with single-vessel Gustilo type IIIB injuries. Conclusion: Patients with Gustilo type IIIC open tibia fractures should be considered candidates for limb salvage, as flap loss and reconstruction of these injuries are comparable to those of the routinely reconstructed single-vessel runoff type IIIB injuries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)982-987
Number of pages6
JournalPlastic and reconstructive surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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