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Back reconstructions using a flap are relatively rare, and clinical reports on such reconstructions are few. We analyzed whether a pedicled flap or free flap was best for treating back defects and established a simplified algorithm for flap selection.
We retrospectively analyzed the cases of 22 patients who underwent flap reconstructions for the back between July 2000 and August 2016. We extracted data on the operative time, defect size, patients’ height and body weight, and reoperation, and each defect size was calculated as a percentage in relation to the body surface area (BSA). We compared these values between both flap types using univariate analysis. In addition, reconstructions using pedicled flaps were classified as single pedicled flap and combination pedicled flap reconstructions. The reasons for reoperation were also reviewed.
Seventeen patients underwent reconstructions using pedicled flaps, and 5 patients underwent reconstructions using free flaps. The operative time and the percentage of defect size in relation to the BSA were significantly lower when using pedicled flaps than when using free flaps (P = 0.002, P = 0.046, respectively). There was no significant difference in terms of the rate of reoperation (P = 0.16) between the 2 types of reconstructions. The operative time was also significantly shorter when using combination pedicled flaps than when using free flaps. However, there was no significant difference in terms of the percentage of defect size in relation to the BSA between combination pedicled flaps and free flaps. Reoperation was necessary because of flap necrosis in pedicled flaps and skin graft necrosis in free flaps.
Our results demonstrated that pedicled flaps should be the first choice for back reconstruction, independent of the defect size, reoperation rate, and reason for reoperation. This is because the operation time required is significantly lower, which benefits patients and surgeons. Free flaps can be used when pedicled flaps cannot be used efficiently.

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