Article Text

Download PDFPDF

Primary split skin grafts for pretibial lacerations
  1. Sunil Dasan, Specialist Registrar,
  2. Kambiz Hashemi, Consultant
  1. Department of Emergency Medicine, Manchester Royal Infirmary, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9WL, UK; kevin


    A short cut review was carried out to establish whether primary split skin grafting is better than simple wound edge approximation at reducing time to healing in patients with pretibial flap lacerations. A total of 72 papers were found using the reported search, of which one presented the best evidence to answer the clinical question. The author, date and country of publication, patient group studied, study type, relevant outcomes, results and study weaknesses of this best paper are tabulated. A clinical bottom line is stated.

    Statistics from

    Request Permissions

    If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

    Report by Sunil Dasan, Specialist RegistrarChecked by Kambiz Hashemi, Consultant

    Clinical scenario

    A 69 year old woman has slipped and caught her leg on a chair. She attends your emergency department with a large flap laceration to the anterior aspect of her right leg. She has no other injuries, no other significant past medical history, and has good social support. You want her wound to heal quickly so that she may get back to her normal activities as soon as possible. You wonder whether a primary split skin graft or a simpler procedure using the existing flap would be best to achieve this.

    Three part question

    In [patients with pretibial flap lacerations] is [a primary skin graft better than simple wound edge approximation] at [reducing the time to healing]?

    Search strategy

    Medline 1966–week 4 March 2005, Embase 1980–week 13 2005, and Cochrane Library Issue 1 2005. Medline: [pre-tibia$.mp OR pretibia$.mp] AND [exp wounds and injuries/OR lacerat$.mp. OR injur$.mp OR exp skin flaps/OR exp skin transplantation] limit to human and English language. A total of 64 articles found. Embase: [pre-tibia$.mp. OR pretibia$.mp.] AND [exp injury/OR lacerat$.mp OR exp skin transplantation/or exp skin graft/or skin flap/] limit to human and English language. A total of 54 articles found. Cochrane Library: Pretibial [all fields]. A total of 23 records found.

    Search outcome

    A total of 72 papers were found of which only one was relevant and of sufficient quality for inclusion (see table 3).

    Table 3


    Earlier studies only compared primary split skin grafting with grafting after failed conservative management or studied conservative management alone. This study shows that primary split skin grafting under local anaesthetic shortens the time to full healing of pretibial flap lacerations by nearly four weeks though a larger prospective randomised controlled trial would be needed to confirm this. Early mobilisation has been shown to be beneficial in the elderly after such a procedure which makes management as an outpatient the preferred option.


    A primary split skin graft performed under local anaesthetic significantly reduces the healing time for pretibial flap lacerations and can be done successfully as an outpatient procedure.

    Report by Sunil Dasan, Specialist RegistrarChecked by Kambiz Hashemi, Consultant