Use of the Vertical Profunda Artery Perforator Flap to Capture the Dominant Perforator: A Cadaver Dissection and Imaging Study
Background While the originally described transverse profunda artery perforator (tPAP) flap is designed to capture the first profunda perforator, our group hypothesized the dominant perforator may not always be captured in this configuration. This study maps the location of dominant profunda perforators using imaging and cadaveric dissections to determine the probability of capturing dominant perforators with the transverse flap design versus the vertical PAP (vPAP) variant. Methods Fifty preoperative magnetic resonance angiogram or computed tomographic angiogram scans (100 total extremities) were examined from autologous breast reconstruction patients between 2015 and 2019. Profunda perforator characteristics that were examined included the distance from the pubic tubercle to the infragluteal fold (IGF), the distance of the perforators from the IGF, distance posterior to the gracilis, the diameter of the perforator at fascial exit, and total number of perforators present. Profunda perforator dissection was performed in 18 cadaveric extremities. Analysis included mean distance from pubic tubercle, distance posterior to the gracilis, diameter at fascial exit, and total number of perforators. Results In imaging analysis, the mean distance from the IGF to the fascial exit of all dominant perforators was 7.04 cm. The mean diameter of the dominant perforator at the fascial exit was 2.61 mm. Twenty-six thighs (26%) demonstrated dominant perforators that exited the fascia greater than 8 cm below the IGF. In cadaver dissections, the mean distance from the pubic tubercle to the fascial exit of all the dominant perforators was 10.17 cm. Nine cadaver specimens (50%) demonstrated perforators that exited the fascia greater than 8 cm below the estimated IGF. Conclusion The dominant perforator can often be missed in the traditional tPAP design. The vPAP incorporates multiple perforators with a long pedicle, excellent vessel diameter, and favorable donor-site.