Extended approach to the vascular pedicle of the gracilis muscle flap: Anatomical and clinical study

Kent V. Hasen, Miguel L. Gallegos, Gregory A. Dumanian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Dissection of the proximal gracilis vascular pedicle proceeds in a dark tunnel-like space deep to the adductor longus. With the application of a previously described technique for an extended approach to the lateral arm free flap, the authors describe a novel technique that improves observation and thus facilitates dissection of the proximal gracilis vascular pedicle. A retrospective review of data for 18 consecutive patients who underwent gracilis muscle free flap harvesting with this modified technique between March of 1999 and October of 2001 was conducted, to assess flap viability and patient outcomes. A cadaveric dissection was also performed, to study the anatomical features of the region in depth and to test the proposed flap modification. After the standard incision has been made, the dominant pedicle is exposed on the medial aspect of the gracilis muscle, running in a fascial cleft between the adductor longus and the adductor magnus. Intramuscular branches to the adductor longus are divided. A space is bluntly created anterior and lateral to the adductor longus by separating the fibrous connections to the surrounding adductor and sartorius muscles on both sides of the vascular pedicle. The gracilis muscle is then divided and passed deep to the adductor longus, into this space. With this new position, the final dissection of the pedicle can easily be performed. The confluence of the venae comitantes is frequently, encountered, providing a larger-caliber single vein for microvascular anastomosis. The ages of the patients ranged from 9 to 70 years. The majority (14 of 18 patients) had traumatic wounds. The free flap survival rate was 100 percent. One minor complication of a seroma at the donor site was observed. One major complication of venous thrombosis was detected on postoperative day 3, with complete flap salvage. No other complications were noted. This technique is safe and permits direct approach to and excellent observation of the proximal aspect of the gracilis pedicle, without the need for headlights or deep retractors. An additional benefit is the frequent finding of a single larger vein from the merging of the venae comitantes close to the deep femoral vessels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2203-2208
Number of pages6
JournalPlastic and reconstructive surgery
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jun 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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