The communicating vein and its use in the radial forearm free flap

Joseph Valentino, Gerry F. Funk, Henry T. Hoffman, Timothy J. McCulloch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Thrombosis is the most frequent cause of failure in microvascular free-tissue transfer. The large communicating vein of the cubital fossa connects the deep and superficial venous drainage of the radial forearm free flap (RFFF). This vein allows the surgeon to simultaneously drain both systems by means of the large veins of the cubital fossa. We prospectively collected data on the venous anatomy of the cubital fossa in 40 consecutive RFFFs over a 3-year period. We then retrospectively reviewed available data from the 14 cases preceding the cases in the prospective series. At least 78% of our patients had a communicating vein that facilitated dual venous drainage; 87% of our RFFFs were drained by both the superficial and deep venous systems, and 90% of our RFFFs had two or more venous anastomoses. We had no RFFF failures in our series of 54 flaps. We present our venous anatomy findings in this series of forearms as well as the venous anastomoses of our 54 patients. The surgical-flap harvest, including the communicating vein and its use, may provide an advantage in the dependability and quality of venous outflow.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)648-651
Number of pages4
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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