Microsurgical reconstruction of the lower extremity presents a difficult problem to plastic surgeons; the rate of failure is higher than any other anatomical site. We reviewed our recent experience with lower extremity microsurgical reconstruction using the 3M vascular coupling device. We believe the excellent patency rate of the coupler may minimize the well- described problem of venous thrombosis in this challenging group of patients. This study involved a consecutive series of 11 patients who presented for reconstructive microsurgery of the lower extremity at NYU Medical Center hospitals between June 1 and September 1, 1994. Ten of 11 patients had free flap transfer to traumatic lower extremity injuries, whereas the remaining reconstruction was in a diabetic individual with a chronic wound. Fifteen microvascular venous anastomoses were performed; all but 1 was performed using the 3M coupler. Our experience with 11 patients, involving 14 mechanically coupled venous anastomoses, demonstrated successful use of the 3M coupler. No intraoperative or postoperative vascular complications occurred. The overall success rate of the 3M coupler for venous anastomoses was 100%, and all microvascular free flaps were successful. We recommend using the 3M coupling device for venous anastomoses during reconstructive microsurgery of the lower extremity. Our series demonstrates the safety and effectiveness of the 3M coupler in this challenging group of patients. In addition, a secondary benefit of the 3M coupler is a significant reduction in operative time.
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