Background: There are limited reconstructive options for the treatment of segmental bone defects of the upper extremity that are >6 cm in length, especially those that are associated with soft-tissue defects. The purpose of the present review was to report on our experience with fifteen patients who received an osteoseptocutaneous fibular transplant for reconstruction of a humeral defect.
Methods: The study cohort included eight male patients and seven female patients with an average age of forty-one years. The indications for the procedure included segmental nonunion (nine patients), a gunshot wound (three), a defect at the site of a tumor resection (two), and failure of an allograft-prosthesis reconstruction (one). The fibular graft was fixed by means of intramedullary impaction in eleven patients, was used as an onlay graft in three, and was used as a strut between the intact diaphysis and the humeral head in one.
Results: The average length of the segmental humeral defect was 9.3 cm. The average length of the fibular graft was 16.1 cm, and the average length and width of the skin paddle were 8.1 and 4.5 cm. The average duration of follow-up was twenty-four months. Three patients had venous thrombosis and underwent a successful revision of the anastomosis. Four patients had early failure of graft fixation. Three patients had a fracture of the fibular graft within the first year postoperatively. All but one of these latter seven patients were successfully treated with open reduction, internal fixation, and additional bone-grafting. One patient with an infection at the site of a nonunion and signs of graft resorption required a second fibular transplant.
Conclusions: The osteoseptocutaneous fibular transplant is an effective treatment for combined segmental osseous and soft-tissue defects of the arm. However, the application of this technique to the arm is more complex than application to the forearm and is associated with a higher rate of complications.