Split Thickness Skin Graft

Skin grafting involves closure of an open wound using skin from another location which is transferred without its own vascular blood supply, relying on the vascular supply of the wound bed for survival. Skin grafts can be split thickness grafts that may involve meshing the donor skin in order to cover a proportionally larger area than the donor skin may have allowed. Besides the ability to cover a large area, a split thickness skin graft (STSG) allows for egress of fluids thereby maximizing close contact between the wound and the graft, which is necessary for vascularization and survival of the graft. A STSG can be taken at a variety of thicknesses but at any level taken, part of the donor dermis is left intact. Other options for skin grafts include full thickness grafts and biomedical grafts such as Integra. Full thickness skin grafts (FTSG) take the dermis as well as epidermis, usually covering smaller areas. FTSG has reduced contracture and often a better color match compared to STSG, but can have reduced survival due to increased thickness of tissue. The decision of the type of graft used in the procedure is made in accordance with the needs of the recipient site, the likelihood of graft take, and the availability of donor skin.

The patient may either go home after the procedure with small areas of skin grafting with instructions for immobilization and elevation of the grafted area. The patient may be admitted depending on the patient’s general health status and the wound. Shear forces are avoided to the grafted area, and the donor site dressings may require prn changes due to fluid leakage until the skin epithelium regenerates from residual dermal structures.

In the case presented in this video, a 12 year old girl was victim to a degloving injury of the left dorsal foot secondary to a motor vehicle accident. A STSG was determined appropriate for wound coverage as her wound bed had granulated in very well, covering all critical structures and providing a healthy bed for graft take.

Linda Murphy MA
Roop Gill, MD

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