Microsurgery is a general term for surgery requiring an operating microscope. The most obvious developments have been procedures developed to allow anastomosis of successively smaller blood vessels and nerves (typically 1 mm in diameter) which have allowed transfer of tissue from one part of the body to another and re-attachment of severed parts. Microsurgical techniques are utilized by several specialties today, such as: general surgery, ophthalmology, orthopedic surgery, gynecological surgery, otolaryngology, neurosurgery, oral and maxillofacial surgery, and pediatric surgery.
Free tissue transfer
Free tissue transfer is a surgical reconstructive procedure using microsurgery. A region of “donor” tissue is selected that can be isolated on a feeding artery and vein; this tissue is usually a composite of several tissue types (e.g., skin, muscle, fat, bone).
Common donor regions include the rectus abdominis muscle, latissimus dorsi muscle, fibula, radial forearm bone and skin, and lateral arm skin. The composite tissue is transferred (moved as a free flap of tissue) to the region on the patient requiring reconstruction (e.g., mandible after oral cancer resection, breast after cancer resection, traumatic tissue loss, congenital tissue absence). The vessels that supply the free flap are anastomosed with microsurgery to matching vessels (artery and vein) in the reconstructive site. The procedure was first done in the early 1970s and has become a popular “one-stage” (single operation) procedure for many surgical reconstructive applications.