Indications and versatility of the posterior tibial artery flap in head and neck reconstruction

Jonathan L. Harper, Thomas J. Gal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Importance Free tissue transfer for reconstruction of the head and neck requires complicated repair of complex anatomy. The posterior tibial flap is a free tissue flap that has viability and versatility to be used for complex reconstructions that is not offered by other free flaps. Objective: The posterior tibial artery flap is a perforator flap which is found between the flexor digitorum longus and the soleus. It has been described as both a pedicled flap for lower extremity reconstruction as well as a free flap, including for head and neck reconstruction. Limited data exists on the subject in the English literature. The objective of this study is to present our experience with the flap in the head and neck. Design: Retrospective review of cases from a single institution between October 2019 and May 2023. Primary indications included patients whose defects were felt to be larger than a conventional radial forearm free flap that were not well served by the anterolateral thigh flap, either because of body habitus or room for the associated muscle. Setting: Tertiary academic hospital system performing free tissue transfer reconstruction of within the head and neck. Results: Fifteen patients underwent posterior tibial artery free flap during the study period. Indications for flap reconstruction included oral cavity, tongue, oropharynx and skin of the scalp and forehead. Flap size ranged from 24cm2 to 143cm2. Only one flap failure was observed. Flap harvest time was universally under forty-six minutes, and as little as thirty-two. Conclusion: The posterior tibial artery flap is a useful option in head and neck reconstruction. It provides an intermediary in size and bulk between the radial forearm and the anterolateral thigh flap. Additionally, it provides a straightforward harvest with minimal donor site morbidity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104238
JournalAmerican Journal of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Medicine and Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 Elsevier Inc.


  • Free tissue transfer
  • Head and neck reconstruction
  • Microvascular free flap
  • Posterior tibial flap

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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