Fascia redefined: anatomical features and technical relevance in fascial flap surgery, 2011

Topics: Fascia, Flaps, Aponeurosis, Connective tissue, Hyaluronan

Authors: Carla Stecco, Cesare Tiengo, Antonio Stecco, Andrea Porzionato, Veronica Macchi, Robert Stern and Raffaele De Caro


Fascia has traditionally been thought of as a passive structure that envelops muscles, and the term “fascia” was misused and confusing. However, it is now evident that fascia is a dynamic tissue with complex vasculature and innervation. A definition of fascia as an integral tissue has been provided here, highlighting the main features of the superficial and deep fasciae. Wide anatomic variations and site-specific differences in fascial structure are described, coupled with results of our extensive investigations of fascial anatomy. This will enable surgeons to make better decisions on selecting the appropriate fascia in the construction of fascial flaps. The use of the superficial or deep fasciae in the creation of a fascial flap cannot be selected at random, but must be guided by the anatomical features of the different types of fasciae. In particular, we suggest the use of the superficial fascia, such as the parascapular fascio-cutaneous free flap or any cutaneous flap, when a well-vascularized elastic flap, with the capacity to adhere to underlying tissues, is required, and a fascio-cutaneous flap formed by aponeurotic fascia to resurface any tendon or joints exposures. Moreover, the aponeurotic fascia, such as the fascia lata, can be used as a surgical patch if the plastic surgeon requires strong resistance to stress and/or the capacity to glide freely. Finally, the epimysial fascia, such as in the latissimus dorsi flap, can be used with success when used together with the underlying muscles. Clearly, extensive clinical experience and judgment are necessary for assessment of their potential use.

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