BACKGROUND: The periosteum in children has strong osteogenic power and is quite thick, facilitating procurement. However, it has been rarely used as a vascularized flap to enhance bone union in this age range. The purpose of this study is to assess the effectiveness of a new vascularized periosteal flap harvested from the fibula for the enhancement of bone union in the pediatric age. METHODS: Thirteen vascularized fibular periosteal grafts were used in 12 children, mean age 12.6 years. Indications included the prevention of bone allograft-host junction nonunion and treatment of recalcitrant bone nonunion. In 9 instances, the periosteal flap was harvested as a free flap and in 4 as a pedicled flap. Serial radiographs and computed tomography scans were used to evaluate the progression of callus formation and bone healing. RESULTS: All flaps were successful in promoting bone healing and achieving bone union in a mean time of 2.8 months for metaphyseal junctions and 7.1 months for diaphyseal ones, except for 1 case, which initially failed due to a pedicle torsion. It was then resolved with a second vascularized fibular periosteal grafts, with complete union after 5 months. CONCLUSIONS: Transfer of a vascularized fibular periosteal flap, either pedicled or as a free flap, is an effective treatment to enhance bone union in children in biologically unfavorable scenarios. The properties of periosteal tissue in the pediatric age are unique and its use in bone union enhancement permits new reconstructive strategies in children different from those described in adults. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: IV. Copyright © 2012 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
- massive bone allograft
- pediatric bone nonunion
- vascularized fibular periosteal graft
- vascularized periosteum